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Von Kagen 

Highway of 



Books by Victor Wolfgang von Hagen 














For Younger Adults 







of the Sun 


With 4 Maps 
and 52 Pages of Photographs 

Duell, Sloan and Pearce New York 
Little, Brown and Company Boston Toronto 









Published simultaneously in Canada 
by Little, Brown & Company (Canada) Limited 


To the memory of 
Sigmund Gildemeister 

The roads of the Incas were the 
most useful and stupendous works 
ever executed by man. 


I The Grandest Road in the World 

II In the Beginning . . . 

in The Floating Road ; 

iv Towers of the Dead * 

v Into the Car ab ay a Country ; 

vi Cuzco the Four Quarters of the World 1 

vii Somewhere, Lost Vilcabamba < 

vni Apurimac: the Bridge of the Great Speaker i. 

IX The Sanctuary of the Hawk i 

X The Highway of the Sun u 

xi The Road to Chachapoyas i : 

XII The Unliving Desert 2< 

xni The Marked Desert 2 

xiv Chala: the Fourth Quarter 2 

xv The Kingdom of the Moon 2 

xvi A Great City Called Tumpiz 2 

xvn The End of the Road 2 

Acknowledgments 3 

Bibliography 3 

Index 3 


Maps 9, 85, 255, 277 

Photographs 306-307 


The Grandest Road in the World 

IT WAS 1548. At the side of a road which went on out across the 
bare Andes, a young soldier was keeping his vow to write down the 
"wonderful things of these Indies." Pedro Cieza de Leon looked 
again at the stone-paved highway he had followed for so many 
leagues and then he slowly wrote: 

Accordingly the Inca constructed the grandest road that 
there is in the world as well as the longest, for it extends from 
Cuzco to Quito and was connected from Cuzco to Chile a 
distance of 800 leagues. I believe since the history of man, there 
has been no other account of such grandeur as is to be seen on 
this road which passes over deep valleys and lofty mountains, 
by snowy heights, over falls of water, through the living rock 
and along the edges of tortuous torrents. In all these places, the 
road is well constructed, on the inclining mountains well ter- 
raced, through the living rock cut along the riverbanks sup- 
ported by retaining walls, in the snowy heights built with steps 
and resting places, and along its entire length swept cleanly 
and cleared of debris with post stations and storehouses and 
Temples of the Sun at appointed intervals along its length. 

In the four hundred years since the young traveler wrote 
much of this grandeur has been laid waste by the insults of time; 
much is in ruins, many of the superbly made halting-places of the 
road reduced to formless mounds. Here and there, during the inter- 

Highway of the Sun 

vening centuries, explorer-archaeologists have wandered over the 
empty spaces of Peru and have painstakingly pushed away the de- 
bris of time to ferret out some of the clues with which to recon- 
struct an empire. But between what is known and what is not 
known lies an immense hiatus, and between what we know of the 
ancient cities along the road and what we do not know is a great 
gap. "We know only that the thread which bound the widely sepa- 
rated communities was the Road that ubiquitous overwhelming 
Road which Cieza de Leon described as the "grandest and long- 
est in the world." 

What then if this fabulous road were to be found and followed 
from end to end? What if one were to employ the techniques now 
available in the scientific fields of archaeology and geography, and 
were to make use of advanced methods of travel such as the double - 
transmissioned truck and the airplane? Would it not then be pos- 
sible to discover the route taken by its various roads, and so make 
their heights and lowlands accessible to those who would search for 
the many forgotten cities? And if these were found might they not 
reveal the secret of how the Incas lived, how by building their 
amazing roads they were able to communicate with almost tele- 
graphic speed with the most remote sections of their empire? 

To travel this ancient route, seeking to find some light on the 
enigma of the history of Man in the Americas, was my dream. Until 
now much of this history had been a mystery one with scale, 
plot and drive. There were clues to be found from which deductions 
were to be made there was the drama of suspense and continued 
novelty. Where did the ancient roads lead and what would one meet 
on the way if they were followed? 

Movement is as old as the earth. And Man is of the earth. Since 
earliest times he has been a great roamer. As early as 10,000 B.C., 
Man the Traveler opened a route to the Baltic to obtain amber, 


The Grandest Road in the World 

"that special act of God/* The earliest man-made roads were built to 
obtain salt; the oldest Roman road was the Via Salaria, the "salt 
road" to Ostia. 

Persia excelled in good roads "crowded with men on the King's 
business/' The caravan trade, extending its way into India, found 
roads already built; for, ever since man invented the vehicular 
wheel in 3000 B.C., traffic had rolled out of the larger Indian vil- 
lages. Alexander the Great said of these same roads, built of clay- 
made brick with stairways of broad steps and low treads easily 
climbed by laden camels and lined "with all manner of trees bear- 
ing fruits," that they were the best he had ever seen. 

Egypt too had its roads. As early as 3000 B.C., a ten-fathom-wide 
road had been built by King Cheops for the purpose of transporting 
the huge limestone blocks destined for the Great Pyramid. "The 
road," said a certain Greek geographer, "was not much inferior, in 
my judgment, to the pyramid itself." There were ancient many- 
gated roads in Africa over which one moved across the desert, 
Sennacherib the Assyrian built his royal road and made "it shine like 
the light of day." Darius the Persian constructed another from 
Susa to Babylonia, spacing it with stone markers and posthouses. In 
Crete there were wagon roads which led to the palace of Knossus. 
The Greeks became systematic road builders, extending their roads 
into Sparta; and, even at this early date, they prepared a manual on 
road repairs. Most of these early routes were luxury highways and 
over them moved obsidian, amber, gold, jade, silver, emeralds; and 
for delicacies, Greek fruits such as olives, figs, lemons, almonds. 
Spices were carried to every destination; silks came over the cara- 
van routes, frankincense and perfumes from Arabia. 

The Romans constructed the first road system. Now for the first 
time the "road" was open to all, without tolls or prerogatives. It 
was no longer exclusively one road only for the luxury trade, or 
reserved for royal travel. Pompey .built his roads over the Alps; 

High-way of the Sun 

Africa was traversed by a Roman road network from Gabes to Te- 
bessa; Emperor Claudius built roads in Britain. On all of these, 
milestones were commonplace while posthouses mushroomed all 
along a Roman way. At the height of the Empire, the longest con- 
tinuous road ran from Antonine's Wall in Scotland to Jerusalem, 
a distance of three thousand miles. Even during the declension of 
Rome the building of roads went on in Spain, in France and in 

After the seventh century the upkeep of roads throughout Eu- 
rope and along the Mediterranean rim was neglected, and by the 
sixteenth century for a traveler to arrive in Madrid he needed **a 
falcon's eye, an ass's ear, a monkey's face, a merchant's word, a 
camel's back, a hog's mouth, a deer's foot." For a thousand years 
Europe's roads remained quagmires. It was Napoleon who rebuilt 
the Roman Road in the nineteenth century. 

Yet during these same centuries, far across the world a people 
called the Incas built a road system which bound together all the 
discordant elements of their land the desert, the mountains, the 
jungles and was in many respects superior to any European road 
network. "Nothing in Christendom equals these wonderful roads 
in Peru," said a literate conquistador. "The great Inca road from 
Quito to Cuzco is as much used as the road from Seville to Triana 
and I cannot say more ..." 

During my many years of exploration through South America I 
had heard much about and had seen fragments of these fabulous 
royal roads of the Incas. Now at long last I was determined to seek 
the reality of these ancient stone arteries and, wherever they might 
lead through jungles, across deserts, over towering mountains 
to follow from the starting point to the end this great Inca high- 
way system these roads which for centuries bound the Inca em- 
pire together and which, like the Persian highways, caused the 
downfall of a great and ancient civilization. 


The Grandest Road in the World 

This, then, is the story of the six people two women and four 
men who formed our Expedition and who began, in the winter 
of 1952, to seek out the remains of the "most useful and stupendous 
works ever executed by man." 

As the fog begins to rise from the Andes like a theatrical drop 
curtain, the Expedition's caravan slowly makes its way across the 
bare roof of Peru. Not a tree, nor plant, nor bird voice animates 
this void; the only moving thing is our caravan of two cars, rolling 
out over the puna toward Lake Titicaca. 

I I 

In the Beginning . . . 

Vv E CAME upon the lake at the end of the day. It was, we later re- 
membered, the same hour of the same day of the same month that 
the first white man chanced upon it in the year 1553. At 12,500 
feet above the surface of the sea, Titicaca lay immense and shim- 
mering and as blue as the heavens almost on a level, it seemed, 
with the sky. 

Over the lake a fleet of grass balsa boats, hurrying before a fol- 
lowing wind, was sailing toward Puno, gliding over the glass surface 
without disturbing its polished water-skin. Far in the background 
like a painted backdrop were the snow-draped peaks of the Bolivian 
Andes, biting into the sky with their glistening white glacier-teeth 
and so sharply outlined that we could not believe they lay forty 
miles distant. 

The truck caravan came to a halt, and for a brief moment we sat 
there spellbound by the magnificent sight. Then Silvia von Hagen, 
my wife, bundled heavily against the almost arctic bite of the cold, 
stepped from the truck and scrambled up to the top of a rock. 

"I never dreamed it would be so beautiful," she said as she 
pointed to a small distant figure. "Look, you can see the bright color 
of the Indian's skirt, and see how the golden color of the grass is 
reflected in the lake." 

After the upward climb from Arequipa and the drive across the 


Highway of the Sun 

cold, treeless and sombre puna, it was a stirring experience to come 
in this twilight hour upon Titicaca. For five thousand years, people 
have lived and died about the shores of this great lake. Amoeba- 
shaped, it is over one hundred and thirty miles in length and forty 
miles, more or less, at its greatest width, and as deep as the Atlantic 
Ocean off the coast of Massachusetts. 

One river flows out of this Gargantuan lake to curve about the 
;grass-bound puna and empty many hundreds of miles southward 
into a lesser lake in Bolivia, from whence the brackish waters filter 
'down to form salt-swamps at Argentina's borderlands. This lake 
and its fringes of good soil had for centuries supplied the cc alF* for 
ancient peoples who lived along its shores fish in abundance, wa- 
ter for crops, fertile earth, a plenteous supply of the reeds which 
took the place of wood for building material for houses and for 
balsa boats. Around its shores lived large bird-colonies of gray- 
suited ibis, ducks and black-winged flamingos. From one of the 
lake's islands, it is legended, came the first Inca King. The environs 
of the lake still remain the most thickly populated section of the 
Andes. Indian in custom and language, these people live much as 
their ancestors lived centuries before. 

Across the puna we could see the path of the Inca road, a frag- 
ment of that fabulous highway which had not been annealed by 
time, moving up from the lake to where we stood on the bare land. 
Together Silvia and I drank in the scene. Lake Titicaca in the fore- 
ground, and the ancient road marching across what seemingly was 
the top of the world . . * 

I had traveled a long road since that day in 1934 in the Ecua- 
dorian Andes when I saw for the first time a fragment of the Inca 
road. It was at the ruins of Ingapirca and I was on my first expedi- 


In the Beginning . . . 

tion to South America, and very young. From the summit of what 
had been an Inca fortress I had seen a clearly defined road, several 
yards wide and bordered by a stone wall undulating over the tree- 
less land. 

"That, Your Grace," my Indian guide had said then, touching 
the brim of his felt hat, "is the Inca road." I had followed it for 
some miles until, at the edge of a canyon, it disappeared in a tangle 
of masonry. Was this a part of that great Royal Road system I had 
heard about? Did this road really lead to Cuzco, fifteen hundred 
miles to the south, and to Tucuman in Argentina, three thousand 
miles away? In time the Royal Road became a sort of obsession; it 
was always in my thoughts. Later, when I was exploring the Maya 
ruins in Yucatan, I walked a stone causeway that connected the sea 
with the Maya capital and I thought again of the Incas and 
wondered about their road: "Some day I must . . /* I promised 

Throughout all the intervening years, I was haunted with the idea 
of rediscovering that road. Now I realized that all my other expedi- 
tions to South America were merely a preparation for the explora- 
tion of these ancient highways of a great and dead civilization. 
After all these years of hoping that someday such a thing could be 
done, it seemed at the moment scarcely credible that we were now 
on the heights of Titicaca, about to begin the exploration. 

The flags of our caravan beat time with the wind. From the 
smaller truck, the red and white banner of Peru flew above the 
American flag. On the larger, a fiery red Power Wagon, the blue 
ensign of the American Geographical Society its device, 
U B I Q u E, encircling a design of the world beat violently at its 

I had felt from the beginning that our Expedition was to be 
basically engaged in geographical research. Where the ancient road 


Highway of the Sun 

ran, why one route and not another had been selected by the Inca's. 
engineers, was, in this "doubled-up world" of Peru as the Spaniard 
called it, primarily a geographical study. Therefore, in the early 
stages of planning for this expedition I had sought out the Ameri- 
can Geographical Society. 

For a century this Society has sent expeditions to the far reaches 
of the globe and their blue ensign has floated over many an isolated 
region. Latin America had, for many years, been a focus of their 
interest and their famous long-term project of an accurate mapping 
of all the Americas from pole to pole has kept the Society very close 
to developments in Hispanic America. The Director of the Society 
agreed to our association with the Society, allowed us to make use 
of the prestige of its name, and in the months that followed, as- 
sisted us in preparing our field maps* 

On October 12, 1952, the American Geographical Society made 
the first formal announcement of the Expedition: 

The most novel and one of the most ambitious archaeologi- 
cal and geographical expeditions of modern times will begin 
when Mr. Victor von Hagen leaves for Peru. In cooperation 
with the Society, Mr. von Hagen will direct an intensive two- 
year study of a forgotten and almost incredible world, the 
thirteenth-century highway of the ancient Incas whose re- 
mains still stretch for ten thousand miles along the west coast 
of South America. The Inca Highway began . . . 

The geographical rediscovery of the Inca Royal Road, of course, 
had to be closely related to archaeological research, for the ruins of 
the way stations (fampus) that once lined the highways through- 
out the entire length, when found, would have to be mapped, and 
such artifacts as came to light studied for the characteristic detail 
that would "date" the ruins and the road. 

Although knowledge derived from archaeological research is 
more reliable than such information as might be found in writings 


In the "Beginning . . . 

about the road, we still had to begin with the early writings for 
basic information. I contacted Dr. John Rowe of the University 
of California, an authority on Peru and an old friend. We decided 
that everything ever written about the roads would have to be 
sought out and catalogued under regional headings, a task over 
which one of his young graduate students labored for more than 
a year. 

The nature of such a geographico-archaeological expedition sug- 
gested a group of five or at most six members. I, as the leader, pro- 
posed to do the ethnographic work and concern myself principally 
with the actual discovery of the Royal Road and the co-ordination 
of the things we found with the evidence supplied to us from the 
literature; in addition I would make ethnological studies of the na- 
tives in the regions through which the road passed. Silvia, who is a 
textile designer, would be the staif artist and study the weaving 
techniques used in the ancient textiles found in the graves and 
would assemble our collections. 

Silvia, who looks like an American, is in fact Brazilian. Born in 
Berlin, educated in the United States, tall and long-limbed, with 
dark hair matching her dark eyes, she has a fearful and passionate 
curiosity about life and, to balance it, a wonderful gaiety and sense 
of humor with a way of puncturing sophisms with thrusts of dis- 
arming frankness, and in addition she has a poet's feeling for na- 
ture, for the color of an autumnal tree, a bird in flight, a flower or 
a design in nature. 

In 1952 I was lecturing at her college; later when we met, I 
found that she was from Brazil and that she was connected with a 
family long established in Peru. Being still in that period of "want- 
ing" to organize this Expedition, I told her about the Inca roads 
drawing, I suppose, as one will under these circumstances, the whole 
business in dramatic overtones. So, seduced by my own enthusiasm, 


Highway of the Sun 

our plan to seek out the Incas' roads developed in the counterpoint 
of her interest, and the Expedition suddenly left the dream stage 
and metamorphosed into being. 

But coming into being was not just a matter of saying, "Let it be 
done." Our project called for travel within the three Perus: des- 
ert, jungle and mountain. Each region demanded a different type of 
equipment. For the heights we would have to be prepared to face 
an arctic cold; on the desert, a heat which during the day was as 
torrid as the Sahara's; while the jungle, insect-filled and dank, de- 
manded yet another type of equipment. All this was expensive; 
there was the matter of raising money. Where were we to get 
enough to maintain five or six people in the field for two years and 
to purchase all we would need? I sought out foundations, institu- 
tions, museums and there was nothing or next to nothing to be 
had from these sources. We next tried industry, and here we found 
there was interest; eventually, we had a promise for all the gasoline, 
cameras, medicines, batteries, tires, power generators, film, dehy- 
drated foodstuffs and coffee, and transportation, that would be 
needed for the Expedition. 

Thus it went on until, in June 1952 the halfway mark set by 
ourselves we had in services and materials more than half of the 
fifty thousand dollars needed to undertake the Expedition. With 
the feeling that we had passed the initial critical stage, I negotiated 
for the literary rights of the Expedition. The New York Times and 
its affiliate, the North American Newspaper Alliance, gave us a con- 
tract for a monthly article; Life Magazine wanted certain picture 
rights, and my publishers felt enough confidence in the project to 
make a substantial advance on contract. With this accomplished we 
had reached the mark set by Sigmund Gildemeister, Silvia's grand- 

"If you can assure me," he had written, "that you can yourself 
raise more than half of what you feel you need, then I will match 


In the Beginning . . . 

that half with dollars which you need for carrying out the Expedi- 

Herr Gildemeister could have stepped out of Thomas Mann's Bud- 
denbrooks. He had a gentle but worldly look, the inherent probity 
of a man who has come from a long line of Gildemeisters who 
played their role in the development of the free cities of the Hansa. 

His parents had been married in Peru in 1853 and as a young man 
he had gone from Peru to Chile to look out for some nitrate inter- 
ests. Eight years later he entered the family corporation. After the 
last war which he spent in the suburbs of Hamburg, the most 
bombed area of all Germany, he went to Brazil where he formerly 
had had business 'interests, there to re-establish himself. In a sense 
Sigmund Gildemeister had returned to the land which had launched 
him on what was to be a successful career. In him we, as the Span- 
iard has it, had found our patron. 

Now to the others who would form the Expedition. To carry out 
this program we needed one or two archaeologists, a topographer- 
draughtsman and a cinematographer. To take a larger group of peo- 
ple into this barren earth where food, or its lack, is a very real 
and gnawing problem would complicate matters. There were 
other considerations. For two years we would have to live on quite 
intimate terms with each other. Members of the Expedition would 
not only have to be expert at their particular tasks but they should 
have other talents and interests as well, for they would undoubtedly 
have to lend a hand in many ways. Then too there would be many 
physically trying aspects to our journey through low-lying arid 
desert, high altitudes and humid jungles. There would be many 
difficult hours and no matter how well organized the Expedition, 
there would be constant irritations. 

So for our topographer, one who also happened to be an expert 
cameraman, we picked a New Yorker. In his late thirties Charles 

Highivay of the Sun 

Daugherty, the son of a well-known illustrator, had studied at Yale, 
worked under John Steuart Curry and learned about mapping dur- 
ing his five years in the Pacific as a Captain of the Engineers at- 
tached to Admiral Nimitz's staff. I had known him personally for 
years; quiet and effective, he was an able skier, inured to the cold 
and the heights. In the first weeks of our trek he grew a beard 
which gave him the look of one of El Greco's hollow-eyed saints. 

It had not been easy to find a cinematographer, a specialist in the 
documentary film, one with the tough endurance needed to carry 
cameras over these high altitudes. In addition he would have to be 
a man of stability and patience, a quality he would have much need 
of in photographing the natives and ourselves, his principal actors. 
Had there been money involved perhaps it would have been easier 
to find such a one, but those who could afford to risk life for two 
years in perilous journeying for the sheer joy of adding a bit more 
to our knowledge of ancient man were not easy to come by. Such 
a one was Richmond Lawrence. He came all the way from a mid- 
west university to announce himself ready to undergo any hardship 
or privation in order to film the phantom roads of the Incas. Born 
in Upper New York State, Lawrence had first been employed with 
one of the major film producers and so had a thorough knowledge 
of the fundamentals. After several years in the Army, he had trav- 
eled all over Mexico and Central America photographing the cul- 
tural life of the Indians. A small man, Lawrence we soon discov- 
ered, daily consumed an extraordinary number of cups of coffee 
whether this gave him his endurance we were never to learn. 

It was Silvia who suggested Dorothy Menzel as the Expedition's 
archaeologist. She was the young graduate student who had done 
such a remarkable job for me at the University of California on the 
research on the Inca roads. Who, asked Silvia, was better qualified? 
She had gone through four hundred years of literature written in 
several languages, selecting those passages which mentioned the 


In the Beginning . . . 

roads; and at the end of a year, her research notes filled three huge 
notebooks. She had often said rather wistfully that she would like to 
come along as the Expedition's archaeologist. 

It was an idea that presented certain problems. Dorothy had yet 
to finish her doctorate thesis and I was concerned about her ability 
to stand the strain. Her own field work had not, as she herself ad- 
mitted, been too extensive. Moreover she was both unmarried and 
attractive; and for two years . * . 

"I know, I know," Silvia had said with emphasis, for she heard 
this objection often: **Never more than one woman on an expedi- 
tion. . . ." 

I was still undecided. I talked the matter of an archaeologist over 
many times with the late Dr. Wendell Bennett of Yale University, 
who helped us formulate the archaeological approach. Even though 
he himself could not accompany us, he gave us without stint all of 
his available time. "He must be the right man, he has to be. And he 
must have considerable field experience. We have no such person 
now at Yale and, too, even two years will not permit extensive ar- 
chaeological investigation at any given site. Your expedition from 
an archaeological standpoint is to be mainly reconnaissance and 
your man will have to go through Peru with blinders on his eyes so 
as not to run after every ruin. This will take a special type of man. 
I'll see what I can do . . ." 

It was most important that the geographical rediscovery of the 
Royal Road be combined with archaeology. After finding the 
tampus, which appeared on the Highway every twelve to sixteen 
miles, experimental pits would have to be sunk and the potsherds 
studied for stylistic sequence. We would have to know if a particu- 
lar section of the road was Inca or pre-Inca. While the pottery 
would give some evidence, the architectural styles of the buildings 
would also have to be studied so as to assign a definite period to each 
road station. 

Highway of the Sun 

It was now the fall of 1^52* Ever since our marriage Silvia 
and I had lived Expedition, breathed Expedition. With six other 
expeditions in the craw of my experience, I had tried at the begin- 
ning to tell Silvia just what we were in for yet in my most pessi- 
mistic moments I never thought the planning would be so involved. 
But we were now committed, and far enough along even to set a 
sailing date. 

The matter of an archaeologist was still unsettled when we pre- 
pared to sail that December day in 1952. It was a day of calamitous 
rain when noon was but a thin solution of night. As the vessel was 
about to leave, the purser brought us a telegram from California: 


The retiring sun was lighting up all the glacier-topped mountains 
on the far edge of Titicaca. The snow took on a variety of glowing 
pastel colors, shades beloved by the impressionists; streamers of mist 
floated by, glowing first red, then crimson, like the crests of a dent 
du midL We took a last look at the thin ribbon of the Inca road, 
now blue-shadowed, entered our cars and started down to Puno, the 
major city on the lake. 

At the gateway to San Carlos de Puno we were stopped by a red- 
and-white ridgepole that barred our entrance, and when we were 
approached by a guard, neat in powder-blue uniform and peaked 
visored cap, I saluted, pointed to the door of the car with its insig- 
nia of the running chasqui figure and the legend, INCA HIGHWAY 
EXPEDITION, and said, "Official car.'* 

Carefully he examined our license plates. Then, as I handed him 
our much valued document the decree granted us by President 
Odria of Peru which in broad and generous terms granted us "all 


In the Beginning . . . 

aid and facilities" he read it through after first summoning the 
Corporal of the Guard who in turn called the Sergeant. They all 
saluted; the ridgepole was raised and we drove on into Puno. 

The cobblestoned street was filled with Indians moving at a half 
walk, half run, a mountain stride which they use untiringly for 
hours. It gave a lively cadence as if the whole town were hurrying 
toward something. The dun-colored houses which fronted the 
street were uniformly flat, forming as it were a continuous mono- 
lith, while the brilliantly colored ponchos of the Indians and the 
gaudy skirts of the cholas, openly and proudly half-caste, gave a 
joyous note. The chola women were particularly colorful as they 
trotted by with their high-crowned derbys set at a rakish angle, 
their numerous crinoline skirts, wrapped tightly around the waist, 
swelling out so that the wearers looked like animated tea cozies, 
their skin tints varying from bronze to yellow-red, their round full 
faces with dark almond eyes shaped like those of well-fed Buddhas. 
The males by comparison were dull birds of passage with the plum- 
age of black carrion crows and their ill-fitting black suits inevitably 
topped by large-brimmed black fedoras. 

That night we stopped near Puno and put up in a rustic chalet 
at Haqui, a mile outside of the city. This was fortunate, for there 
was not another place in all Puno for passers -through like ourselves. 
A gracious lady who had read of our Expedition kindly made us 
the loan of her house for as long as we stayed in the region of the 
lake. The house, surrounded by high moldering adobe walls, had 
rooms made entirely of sun-baked brick. The largest of these Silvia 
marked for the kitchen study while the other three served for our 
bedrooms. Between the house and the shore were walls of high- 
growing totora reed, where unseen ducks cackled and frogs kept up 
a throbbing ululation throughout the long frigid nights. In a day's 
time we had put the place in working order. Our electric generator 


Highway of the Sun 

gave us our light; we had our own portable sanitation; and stoves, 
camp furniture and two gasoline heaters were installed. As for the 
water, which was always of questionable purity, we put up a large 
Lister bag in the patio and kept our Indian helpers traveling back 
and forth like processionary caterpillars, carrying water to fill it. 

Puno has the "air-temper" of Burgos in Spain, noted for its ten 
months of winter and two months of hell or, to retain the Spanish 
pun, Diez meses de invierno y dos de infierno. The days are warm 
and sun-filled, although the shadows are always cellar-cool; but 
once the sun disappears it becomes bitterly cold. Actually Puno 
has two seasons, wet and dry: the dry or "winter" because it is 
cold; the wet or "summer" because it rains and is warmer. Al- 
though it was May, the edges of the lake and the pools on the road 
as well as the water in our Lister bag were frozen every morning. 
Yet no matter what the day or the food or the freezing night, our 
arctic sleeping bags of feather down provided the comfort that was 
denied us by the climate. 

We acquired Francisco along with our chalet. His face like beaten 
bronze had a Mongolian cast of eye, Hyperborean cheekbones, and 
was fretted with an astonishing arabesque of wrinkles. Francisco 
was pleasant, ineffectual and affirmative. He answered "Ari" to 
everything, so we called him Ari. 

"We would have been lost, however, without his twelve-year-old 
son. He was already a miniature man and as astute as an Indian of 
thirty, yet at thirty he would know no more than at twelve. The 
original shape and form of what he wore when we first met, we 
were never to discover, since his clothes were so rainbow-patched. 
Where he needed his pants most he had nothing at all and at any 
moment we believed he would expose that which society insists be 
hidden. And so we decided to dress him befitting his new station as 
a personal servant to the Expedition. With his new clothes tight- 
fitting, gray, coarse homespuns, a form-fitting jacket and a brightly 

In the Beginning . . . 

colored ckumpi-belt, sandals, a stocking cap with ear flaps to keep 
out the night cold, and a gaudy-colored poncho Silverio was 
ready to attend us. 

Since an Expedition, like an army, travels on its belly, organiza- 
tion of house and food had to take precedence over program and so, 
won to the logic of food, presently we went into Puno to augment 
our supplies. Puno is not, as Andean cities go, very old. It was noth- 
ing in ancient times and did not even appear as a formal city until 
1 66% when the Viceroy of Peru, by grace of a newly discovered sil- 
ver mine, named it the Villa of San Carlos de Puno. Its streets are 
cobblestoned and progress on them is a little like bouncing on a 
pogo stick. The houses that face the streets are of uniform height 
and are uniformly painted. In Puno's center near the large square 
is its cathedral. A coldly austere edifice which bears in the midst of 
its intricate decorations the date ANO DE 1754, the church is deco- 
rated in the mestizo style. Over the doorway an Indian -inspired 
St. Michael wearing a feather headdress and flounced skirt kills a 
dragon, while nearby mermaids, curiously popular with Indian 
sculptors, play their ukulele-like cbarangos as they float over the 
niches containing austere- faced saints. 

From one cold shadowed street to another, Puno is a long market 
place with the main one in front of the railway depot providing the 
drama of the day. There shopping is not much different from being 
in an evening subway rush hour, except that here one is endangered 
by the loaded workers carrying out-sized baskets, or he may be 
spattered with gore from a cart in which "4! drayer is transporting 
the viscera of a flayed ox. Here too jousting ^ part of buying. Food 
is abundant. Vegetables range from pur ie potatoes the size of 
prunes to artichokes. There are bananas and avocados from the 
yungas hot-lands and enormous salmon trout from the rivers, 
shrimp from the coast and seaweed from the ocean. The butchers 
are women, shrouded in white wraparounds and wearing the brown, 


Highway of the Sun 

high-crowned trilibies. They wield an instrument shaped like a be- 
heading ax, and no sooner is the amount of meat gauged than the ax 
crashes down. You are then handed an undistinguishable mass of 
meat, bone and viscera. Apparently, from the toughness of the 
meat, the seventeenth-century Italian law of Lex Foscarini is 
strictly adhered to oxen are not slaughtered until unfit to work 
in the fields. 

In the open market, outside of the concrete walls, lies the tradi- 
tional market. Here Indian women sit with much dignity before 
their offerings, which are placed atop woven mats laid over the 
cobblestones and heaped up with their specialties earthen cook- 
ing pots, painted clay bowls, glazed clay figures, fish, seaweed, 
talismans, fetishes, potatoes, oca, frozen chuno potatoes and corn. 
There are no hucksters the women merely wait. Man first 
knew peace from commerce and the market is as old as man in the 

All manner of things are for sale here, including such standard 
simples as condor fat for rheumatism, starfish for headaches, 
aborted llama foetus for good luck and other equally unpalatable 
recipes for fertility and aphrodisia. Since the Incas did not have the 
money, trade was by barter, and so, even though the Indian has now 
had coins for five centuries, barter remains the trade technique. We 
watched an Indian woman who sat beside her offering of potatoes. 
They were stacked neatly on her woolen poncho, arranged like a 
diagram of chemical molecules A buyer with her baby strapped to 
her back sat down, pulltH a handful of beans from her blouse and 
offered to exchange then) for an amount of potatoes. The vendor 
gave a disdainful glance t t the offering and simply ignored her. The 
woman reached inside her blouse and pulled out another handful of 
beans and placed these on the pile. The vendor, now satisfied with 
the exchange, swept the beans into the fold of her skirt like a 
croupier pulling in lost chips while the buyer picked up her pota- 


In the Beginning . . . 

toes, stuffed them into her blouse, then pulled out a few more beans 
which she tossed down as a token of good feeling. 

It took us only a short while to purchase the supplies which 
would complement our own dehydrated food store. That done we 
returned to Haqui, there to make ready for our reconquest of what 
Pedro Cieza de Leon called "the grandest road in the world/' 


I I I 

The Floating Road 

WE WERE now well on our journey into the past. The moment we 
eft Puno to follow southward, first, the traces of the Inca road, 
re left the present and vaulted back four hundred years. And 
Imost at once we were aware that we had undertaken a gigantic 
ask. The Royal Road was here somewhere, buried under five cen- 
uries of earth-drift, but to find its course we would have had to 
rack it much as one does the spoor of some gigantic prehistoric 
>east who had left its footprints in the sands of time. It was going 
o be, I was convinced, an engrossing sort of puzzle played on the 
backboard of time. We had the literary research, the maps and 
orrowed aerial photographs, and these had dovetailed to form the 
icture. Our antagonists were time and geography. Yet, if in the 
irst days we did not always find what we had hoped immediately 
o find the broad expanse of the Royal Road running like a 
lodern turnpike across the level land we still had the land and 
he people of the land who filled in the vacuum. 

Now our elaborate literary research was having its first full test. 
"here was scarcely an hour of the day that I was not using our note- 
ooks filled with information about the direction the Inca road 
ad taken around the edge of the lake. For although the little vil~ 
tges mentioned in the research notes still retained their names, 
xany of them had been moved from their original sites. That made 

The Floating Road 

for much geographical confusion and could and often did 
throw our survey of the road off for many miles. 

No one helped us more than our "Cieza." We never thought o 
those who had centuries ago preceded us along these roads as mere 
"chroniclers" or disembodied authorities. Through the text of their 
books it was as if they were actually talking to us and, themselves, 

Who for example was this Pedro Cieza de Leon who since 1553 
has conducted his readers along the Royal Road? We knew no more 
of him than he chose to tell of himself, which was precious little. 
Anonymity was not uncommon in that robust century, for unless 
a man were well born and had his official scribes to record his deeds, 
little attention was paid to him, and few were bold enough to speak 
of themselves. So it was with Cieza. He was, in his society, nothing 
or less than nothing an undernourished boy from the hovels of 
Seville who in 1532, at the age of fourteen, had signed on as a lolly- 
boy to a knight bound for the New World. 

Don Pedro mentions nothing of his first years in the Americas. 
Yet when boys normally would be studying the arts of civilization, 
he was learning his in the savage school of experience. At twenty- 
two he began his journal. What inspired him, of all the conquista- 
dores, to set down the events that took place before his eyes? What 
moved him to write? He was not, like many of the knuckleheads 
that surrounded him, an illiterate. That he could write was an 
achievement sufficiently startling in itself for those times, but he 
also wrote well which is even more surprising; "... there came 
upon me a strong desire to write an account of some of the great 
and strange things that are to be seen in this new world; those 
which can be seen with my own eyes. . . .*' 

If a talent could be said to justify itself not by its originality but 
by its intensity and vitality, Cieza may be placed beside William 

Highway of the Sun 

D ampler, the pirate, who while sailing the Spanish Main wrote his 
''Discourse on Winds" which he kept in the hollow of a bamboo 
tube. Despite long days in the saddle, living off the meager fare of 
the country, attacked by Indians, disturbed at night by the roll of 
dice and the coarse humor of soldiers frolicking with Indian 
wenches, Cieza wrote: te Ofttimes when the other soldiers were 
sleeping, I was tiring myself by writing. Neither fatigue nor the 
ruggedness of the country nor the mountains and rivers nor raging 
hunger and suffering has ever been sufficient to obstruct my two 
duties: writing my chronicle and following without fault my flag 
and my Captain." 

Don Pedro, then, was our constant companion, and through his 
eyes, four hundred years to the day and year that he published his 
chronicle, 1 we saw the roads, the bridges, and better still the people 
who had T rought the road. ec Of the lake of Bonbon and how it is 
supposed to be the source of the great river of La Plata. . . . Of 
the manner in which the city of Cuzco is built of the four Royal 
Roads which lead from it . ." One places trust in such a man. 
Like those of his time, he paid his obeisance to God and his King. 
Beyond that, Cieza was exact and critical. What he himself did not 
see, what did not actually "transpire before his eyes," he sought out 
from others, weighed what he found, balanced it in the scale of his 
own experience, and then used it. 

Long in the "Indies," Cieza returned to Spain in 1550 without 
any fortune, and in a sordid garret in Seville he composed his 
chronicles. Physically worn by years of hardship, living off poor 
wine, eating bread, garlic and olives, finding it difficult even to buy 
new pen quills and writing amidst all the squalor and filth of 
the Seville slums, he was, after thirty years in the New World, 

1 The First Part of the Chronicle of Peru, which Treats of the Demarca- 
tion of Its Provinces and the Description Thereof, of the Foundations of 
New CitieSy of the Kites and Customs of the Incas and Other Strange 
Things Delightful to Know, by Pedro Cieza de Leon. (Seville, 1553 ) . 


The Floating Road 

old before his years and broken. "The hardships that had to be 
endured in those countries were so terrible. . . . Oh! to have 
gone there, damaged my conscience, wasted my time, and lost 
my teeth!" 

Three years later some printer-publisher with a nose for a good 
thing published the first of the Chronicles and within a year they 
were translated into several languages. Unfortunately by that time 
Cieza was dead. 

In this bare land, where we slowly followed the spoor of the Inca 
road, houses and people seemed part of the landscape. This region 
was the most densely populated in Peru. It was May and the time 
for planting. Everyone was in the fields, the very young and the 
very old. Women were predominant, as if to under scor "* the belief 
that agriculture was a female discovery and under the aegis of the 
earth -mother. Little girls, counterparts of their mothers, were set- 
ting down the patterns of existence which, with only slight varia- 
tion, was to be theirs the rest of their earth-days. The windowless 
houses, made of adobe and thatched with grass, were clustered near 
sheltering rocks away from the fields. The winter wheat had not 
yet been harvested and the golden sheaths with the blue sky and 
the blue lake as backdrop was a picturesque setting for the lives of 
these Indians. In this, his own environment, the Indian is as one 
with his tradition-filled life. Love for the land, a yearning for land, 
a desire to have his own piece of land, is the dream of every Indian; 
he will starve for it, even kill himself working to get money to buy 
his own land. . 

The people of the lake, however, are quite unique in that here 
the old Inca system of the ayllu, or communally held land, is still 
in effect. The community is the "earth-cell." The land cannot be 
sold. It can only be worked, and as a member of the clan you are 


Highway of the $//// 

born into this earth-cell. Still the Indian does not seek the comforts 
of our civilization; he resists symbiosis with the white man. 

The lake was always with us. It reflected like a mirror all the 
moods of the sky. At times it seemed more like the sea with the 
constant wind raising high waves and the opposite shore lost to 
view. Much of the shore was fringed with the tall reeds called 
Mora which the Indian uses for his balsa boats, and from the shore 
the land retreated upward until it swept up to heights a thousand 
feet above the lake surface. It was in such places that the road ran, 
for its builders had always tried to avoid running their road through 
fertile land. 

At first we were lost in a confusion of maps and overwhelming 
geographical detail. The Inca road, as traced in our research, went 
on both sides of the lake, separating into two parts the town of 
Ayaviri which lay above the northern end of Titicaca. The road 
which ran on the west side, where we were now camped, was named 
the Oma-suyu, while that which ran along the east side was called 
the Urco-suyu. At the southern end of the one-hundred-and-thirty- 
mile-long lake, the branches came together; southward the Royal 
Road continued into Bolivia and thence down to Chile and Argen- 

We had decided to follow the route on the west side by truck 
caravan when we could, by horse when vehicles failed us, and if 
needed, by foot. It was an enormous first project, for it took in the 
entire province which the Incas called the Koya, Charles Daugh- 
erty, who had a penchant for giving a code name for everything we 
did, called it ''Operation Koya/* 

Aside from the trouble of trying to find the remains of any Inca 
road, we now began to have mechanical difficulties. This, of course, 
was to be expected at these high altitudes where the rarity of the 
atmosphere greatly affects the functions of any mechanism. First, 


The Floating Road 

our jeep had developed a death rattle and then the long fifteen- 
hundred-foot climb up the side of the Andes to Puno had done the 
jeep in. Stalled in the streets of the town, with the temperature at 
freezing, I sought out a mechanic called "the Master." He promptly 
diagnosed the problem as a "little nothing" and promised that be- 
fore the sun came up over the roofs on the morrow it would be re- 
paired and ready for the road. 

However, when I called the next morning I found he had gone 
far beyond the call of duty. Jeep parts were strewn all over the 
dust-filled garage. The garage was a madhouse swarming with no 
less than a dozen Indian boys who acted as his assistants. The whole 
business reminded me of the theme of the "Sorcerer's Apprentice." 

When I inveighed against this delay, he meekly replied, "Your 
Grace, tomorrow tomorrow, Your Grace, it shall be ready." 

There were many "tomorrows" and when at last we set off many 
days behind schedule, I noticed at once that the jeep was without 
sustained power and that the oil pressure seemed erratic. In that 
high whine and rasp of sound was the leitmotif of an Andean com- 
edy of errors. At best we could move but slowly. 

Within a fortnight, however, we had fallen into a rhythm. At 
the first real bite of the night we stopped, searched out a campsite, 
pulled the caravan around so that the cold winds would be broken 
and set to work. One of the trucks of our caravan, the Dodge 
Power Wagon, had been designed for the Expedition. It had a four- 
wheel drive and was capable of climbing in low gear up a sixty- 
degree angle. On the front there was a geared winch of tremendous 
power. We had built a special body for it with steel cabinets along 
the side with matching steel doors. In these, as Silvia planned, the 
food was so arranged that at any given time we could lower the 
door which then became table or cutting board, and so prepare our 
meals. Unless one has lived in lands where once out of the larger vil- 


Highway of the Sun 

lages there is nothing to be had, one cannot fully appreciate what 
this rolling commissary meant. It had taken much precious time to 
think out the way to carry our food but we knew that all this 
careful planning would now be worth the time and expense given 
to It. We had worked out every detail carefully. We had our own 
electric power; we could sustain ourselves without contact for 
months if need be; with supplies and with our sleeping bags, tents 
and other related equipment we moved in our own self-contained 
world. Lawrence would set up the generator and within a few min- 
utes we had electric light. Meantime, while Charles had set up the 
"facilities/' Silvia and I would start work on the preparation of 
food. The sides of the Power "Wagon were let down. At one end was 
the gasoline stove; in the center our plastic dishes and the spices; in 
the third cabinet was the food, mostly of the dehydrated variety. In 
time we would augment it when possible with fresh food, but the 
puna offered little variety and when you travel across it, you must 
be independent of all other sources or else most of the time will be 
spent in futile search for food. Canned goods were not for us. They 
were expensive, space-filling and wasteful. 

On our first night out our menu consisted of duck a la puna with 
dry mushrooms and dehydrated carrots and onions. To this was 
added a handful of dehydrated spinach cooked in water with a 
soupgon of garlic powder and salt. From a moisture-proof envelope 
Silvia poured out a quantity of dried fruits which she made into 
the filling for a pie. The duck and the pie were baked in a flat oven 
on the third burner of the stove. Our coffee was Nescafe. By the 
time the beds were up, the double arctic sleeping bags unrolled and 
the stars had made their heralded appearance, dinner on the top of 
the world was ready. Then on this first night on the road as we lay 
back to allow our whole beings to enjoy what in this clime had been 
an arduous day's work, I thought back to our arrival in Peru. 

The Floating Road 

Silvia and I had arrived in Lima two months before the main 
part of the Expedition, so that we might make, as we thought, all 
the arrangements with the officials for the clearance of the vast im- 
pedimenta of the Expedition. Then came the day when Silvia and I 
had risen betimes and had gone down to the port of Lima to see the 
S.S. Lena-Dan come in with the other members of the Expedition 
and our vehicles and supplies for two years of exploration and 
study. The sea journey had filled our friends with a sense of ex- 
pectancy; they were anxious to get cleared of Customs and into the 
field. I had played a fantastic game with the Customs. Possessed of 
an executive decree, which in general terms promised "everything," 
I had to give actuality to that '"everything." Since in the lower 
echelons of the bureaucracy of Peru there is no executive power, 
decisions cannot be made at this level. Yet it was on this level that 
I had to work in order to get Customs clearance for the Expedition. 
The list headed by the two vehicles, a Dodge Power Wagon and a 
jeep, was a long one; cameras, film, surveying instruments, camping 
equipment, saddles, personal effects all of these could be admit- 
ted on a temporary basis since these tangibles could be checked out 
of the country at the terminus of the Expedition. 

"And what about these items?" said one official. Using his small 
finger as we use the index finger, he went down the list. 

"There is here your first item two cases of Daiquiris those 
are mixed cocktails, I take it and Martinis." He was correct. Our 
shipping agent had put these by mistake at the top of the list of a 
thousand different items. 

"Now these cannot be admitted temporarily, since you shall not 
take them out again, I take it." 

"Of course not, but you see . . ." And I explained how an en- 
thusiastic sales promoter thought it might be nice to donate some 
mixed drinks to inspire us on some of the cold Andean nights. 

"You shall need a permit . . ." 


Highway of the Sun 

* c But we really are not interested in the cocktails." 

Now somewhat suspicious of all we carried, he went over the list 
item by item and there were thousands: thermometers, copying de- 
vices, cutlery, books, film splicers, machine tools, axes, machetes, 
gasoline stoves, altitude masks, oxygen-breathing devices for high 
altitudes. Day after day I would turn up at Customs in a freshly 
pressed suit; each afternoon I would leave, my temper frayed to 
ribbons. At last I called on the Finance Minister, an old friend. 
There were telephone calls and orders, more paper, more delay. At 
last it came to an end. A compromise was effected. A bond was of- 
fered for the Expedition's impedimenta in transit for a period of 
two years, the cocktails excepted, and after two weeks of effort, 
we were more or less ready. 

Then gasoline had to be cached along the way we could only 
transport a small amount. This we had to arrange with the Interna- 
tional Petroleum Company. The foodstuffs destined for two years 
of travel had to be separated into stores for coast, jungle and An- 
des and a selection of the things we would take along for the first 
phase of the Expedition had to be made. 

While all this went on, Silvia and I selected the maps offered us 
by the Institute Geograftco Militar those marked "Secret" had to 
be released to us. Some of these, based on aerial surveys, were won- 
derfully detailed. Later we went out to the Peruvian Air Ministry 
to select aerial photographs. 

Ever since the Shippee- Johnson Expedition of the American Geo- 
graphical Society in 1931 had photographed Peru from the air, the 
Government had worked steadily on a complete aerial mosaic of 
Peru. This project was of great value to us, for we could now select 
aerial photographs in the areas of our interests and obtain the copies 
at a small cost. These proved to be invaluable in our road search. 

On the eve of our take-off, we summed up all we had the re- 
search from the literature of chroniclers, knights, conquistadores, 


The Floating Road 

picaros, Incas, padres, travelers and archaeologists, correlated in 
three large black notebooks. Our specially prepared Inca Highway 
maps showing the road directions as deduced from that literature 
were supplemented by detailed Peruvian military maps and by the 
aerial surveys we had made in various air flights. These, with aerial 
photographs from the archives, completed our list of necessities 
or so we thought. We believed, then, that with these assists we had 
lessened our research problem considerably and that we should the 
more easily find the roads. 

This was oversimplification. 

Even on the last day before we moved out, we were still franti- 
cally enmeshed in things undone and wanting. Then on the sixth of 
March, 1953, we went through a small official ceremony in Lima. 
We were interviewed, embraced, photographed. Then we set off and 
within an hour we had put Lima behind us, and were in the desert. 
That noon I sent off my first dispatch to the New York Times: 


After all these irritating complications the hardships of the Ex- 
pedition now seemed as nothing. The most difficult part for us all 
was the adjustment to each other. Our first weeks of traveling over 
the puna in search of the roads were not always in wilderness that 
was "happiness enow." There were the natural irritations of pro- 
pinquity. Then, too, we all suffered from the first onrush of so- 
roche, altitude sickness, when our food never seemed to digest, 
headaches were frequent and tempers short. Self-control here was as 
necessary as breathing if our individual discomfort was not to take 
the form of anger toward one another. This is always a danger 


Highway of the Sun 

when persons unused to each other are thrown together on a con- 
tinually intimate basis. Silvia held up well, although I could see that 
the enforced intimacy was galling; few women could have endured 
it day after day, night after night. Charles, under the pressure of 
altitude, withdrew into himself and was inclined at times to be un- 
communicative. Lawrence, like most who live alone, became hyper- 
efficient; a martinet over details, he grew short-tempered and ex- 
plosive. I was equally irritating, for the altitude seemed to give me 
more energy I have more than my share under normal condi- 
tions and my pushing of the program certainly strained nerves 
that were already taut. And yet despite all this, animated by the 
tremendous challenge that our exploration offered, we were making 
good progress in searching out the Inca road. 

By June we had followed the road down from the puna and ar- 
rived in the "Kingdom of God," the halfway mark between our 
starting point and the border of Bolivia, whither we were bound. At 
Juli, in the center of this "Kingdom/' we drove into its small square 
dominated by a baroque cherub holding a fish which spewed water 
into a crisply carved fountain. Here the buildings about the plaza 
dated back to the sixteenth century. One with an ornamental door- 
way was now the jail; another had housed a printing press which is- 
sued early books one of these, dated 1595, is a bibliographical 
rarity. A vast area about these shores of Lake Titicaca had been 
given by the Viceroy in 1576 to a militant order of God and at 
that time the Jesuits, gathering the Indians into villages, had im- 
posed a veneer of Christianity over their paganism and had taught 
them to carve and decorate in the Spanish style. As a result in Juli 
today there are churches as astonishing as they are original. All 
through the Titicaca region we were to find such churches border- 
ing the Royal Road of the Incas. 


The Floating Road 

By the time we arrived at Pomata, the next village on the road, 
we found that time had almost obliterated its traces. The low stone 
walls that had bordered it had been removed and used for the mak- 
ing of houses. In many places fields occupied the place where the 
highway had been. Only on the bare puna or on the high grass 
veldts which did not lend themselves to cultivation was the road 
to be clearly seen. 

We had now to depend on other chroniclers for aid in locating 
the exact location of the phantom road. Our friend Cieza's scant 
and tantalizingly brief descriptions were not now enough to aid us. 

It was here, at the little village of Pomata, that we began to con- 
sult the writings of another New World chronicler, one Poma de 
Ayala. He had also written a valuable documentation to the early 
history of the Inca. Compiled during the years 15671615, this 
contains in its thousand pages, hundreds of pen drawings at once 
lively and nai've. This strange old history one could almost call 
it a comic book history of the Inca empire came to light in 1908, 
oddly enough, in the Royal Danish Library at Copenhagen. Written 
partly in Quechua, partly in archaic Spanish, it reflected the au- 
thor's origin, an Indian mother and a father who was one of the 
Spanish conquistadores. Poma de Ayala was apparently educated at 
the school for Indian nobles at Cuzco. As a young man he traveled 
about his estates, witnessed the degradation of the Indians, and 
took their sides in disputes with their Spanish overlords; and in 
time he began to work on his book. 

The result was a profusely illustrated volume, difficult to read 
but invaluable as a sourcebook on the religious customs, dress, 
daily life of the Incas. It was of tremendous interest to us, especially 
so since under a chapter headed "TAMBOS" (tampus), Poma de 
Ayala had a complete listing of these wayside stations along the 
highway from Colombia to Chile. At this point at Pomata we 
came upon a succinct entry in his book: Pomata pueblo tanbo rreaL 


Highway of the Sun 

From this we knew that Pomata, city of the royal tambo, had once 
been an official stop on the Inca highway, and that even though 
the road we sought had long since disappeared it had in fact passed 
this way. And so Pomata became one more historic link on the 
Royal Road of the Incas. 

As the land became less fertile and less peopled, we were able to 
pick up longer stretches of the ancient Inca road. On the puna it 
ran unobstructed as straight as line and eye could make it, its width 
the standard measure of fifteen feet. Apparently it had been paved 
except where marsh lands had converted the land into a quagmire. 
Otherwise across the puna> as firm and hard as a macadamized road, 
the Inca road was laid down in a direct line, marked with a low 
wall usually made of stone mixed with a mud adhesive. The Andean 
earth here was subject to severe erosion due to the alternate as- 
saults of sun and rain, those "insults of time'* as the French have it, 
so that much of the original course of the road had been worn away. 
Occasionally, however, we could see enough of the old roadbed to 
mark it, measure it, and even travel this path of an empire. For 
many miles we followed the Royal Road over a land as vacant as 
the moon for while the Incas had made a practice of using the short- 
est route to get to their destination, their engineers had avoided any 
land that could be cultivated, so the road traveled through barren 

In this way we came to Zepita. Our research said very clearly: 
^Cipita (Zepita) Village: Royal Road near to the river bridge/* 

All day we searched for ruins of old Zepita and its Inca tamptt, 
yet we found no indication of its remains. I questioned the old and 
the young, even sought out the padre, guardian of the church and 
the special amenities. He could tell me nothing. He was a singularly 
obtuse man who insisted that the road of the Incas here ran under- 
ground. Why, he could not say, except it was what was said in 

The floating Road 

these parts. Exasperated, I finally led him out back of his church 
and pointed out the plainly visible Inca road, but he still held to his 
original argument. 

Beyond this little village, the littoral of Lake Titicaca is trans- 
formed into a grotesque tableau of sandstone and limestone sculp- 
tured by the winds. It had taken fantastic shapes and would have 
seemed uninhabitable except that wherever there was a purchase 
in the cliffs there was an Indian's house. 

For three weeks now we had been skirting the lake. We were now 
at the border town of Desaguadero, the coldest spot on Titicaca. 
The cool shadows of night had fallen and the winds whipping across 
the lake carried a penetrating cold. We were dressed as we would be 
for the Arctic sheepskin-lined jackets, fur gloves, stocking caps 
over ears. 

I had expected to find a large river here, since the Desaguadero is 
the only river to drain the huge lake. But not until we drove along 
a reed-choked estuary did we see it. A hundred feet wide, marsh- 
bound on both sides, this river which marks the border between 
Peru and Bolivia was spanned by a battered wooden bridge with 
iron gates on either side strung with barbed wire and patrolled by 
guards. In Spanish times there were no such boundaries. The Inca 
road threaded its way through the fantastic cliffs of sandstone, 
crossed the river by means of a balsa pontoon bridge and went on to 
the next tampu station. 

Here the tampu known as Cacha-marca was famous for its 
bridge. ct ln the days of the Inca," wrote Cieza, "there used to be a 
toll-taker who received tribute from those who passed over the 
bridge which is made of bundles of stalks in such a way that it is 
strong enough to allow men and horses to cross over it. . . ." Re- 
newed every year this famous floating pontoon bridge was to en- 
dure for over eight hundred years and was still in place in 1864 


Highway of the Sun 

when the American explorer-diplomat, E. George Squier, came 
upon it. Fortunately for us, he sketched it. 

He came into the village of Desaguadero much as we did tired, 
hungry, seeking a place to sleep. He arrived during a fiesta. Across 
the entrance to the little plaza were two crooked poles and stretched 
between them on ropes by way of decoration dangled silver spoons, 
silver goblets, silver soup tureens and night' pots, cups, plates and 
strings of Spanish dollars, gathered from all the people of the vil- 
lage. Indians, drunk as Dionysus and barbarically costumed in os- 
trich plumes, beating drums and blowing at pan pipes, were danc- 
ing around the plaza. The elite of the town sat on mats drinking. 

"The scene was droll and barbaric," Squier wrote later, ct and we 
involuntarily checked our horses as we passed beneath the extraordi- 
nary string of treasures which garnished the entrance to the plaza." 
The resident priest of the village "red of face, his glistening eyes 
watery and blinking," staggered forward, bottle in hand, gave them 
a drink and offered them the village. They took only a part of it, a 
small hovel on the floor of which Squier spread his bed, while his 
companion, Harvey the daguerreotypist, who carried an enormous 
primitive photographic apparatus with him, ^contrived to dispose 
himself on some bags of barley in the corner." 

When Squier died in the Great Blizzard in 1888, he was remem- 
bered chiefly as one of the five husbands of the formidable Mrs. 
Frank Leslie. Yet he had been the first important American archae- 
ologist. Born in Upper New York in 1821 and with little formal 
schooling, Squier became a self-taught civil engineer and journalist. 
At twenty-seven he wrote his book on ''Indian Mounds," the first 
book published by the Smithsonian Institution. At twenty-nine he 
was the American Minister to Central America and in 1863 he was 
named Lincoln's Commissioner to Peru. On the termination of his 
official duties, he traveled throughout Peru and eventually wrote a 
book on the archaeology of Peru. 


The floating Road 

And now here at Desaguadero, with Squier's Peru as our guide, 
we were to try to relocate the site of this once famous balsa pontoon 
bridge, on the Royal Road of the Incas. 

The village was empty and cold, but overlooking the river there 
was a hotel of sorts; and while there was no priest to welcome us 
with generous bottle, there was the official of the place who, having 
been advised of our probable arrival by the Prefect of Puno, gave 
us welcome. 

It was freezing. We had already put on our arctic clothes. After 
a supper which seemed to congeal on our plates, Silvia gave up arid 
took to the shelter of her sleeping bag. We stayed below, and in the 
light of a single gasoline lamp we talked over the details of to- 
morrow's building of the balsa bridge. The official, a youngish man 
in a black suit with matching black fedora who seemed warm 
enough although his hands were as red as parboiled lobsters, in- 
formed us that, on receipt of the telegram from our friend in 
Puno, he had set about to gather up the needed Indians. 

"I work, you must understand, through my Indian officials, who 
are called gobernadores. They are usually elders of the villages, the 
best informed and respected. I have asked them to come here to- 
night to talk to you." 

I indicated that this was very good and thanked him for what I 
considered to be a miracle of organization. 

"But of course," he went on, "you must do the rest . . ." By 
that he meant the supplying of the common incentive alcohol 
and coca leaves. "Unfortunately," he went on, "our Indians will 
not work properly without coca, and then if you give them in ad- 
dition some alcohol, matters proceed faster." 

I felt that I should go out at once and see, even at this cold hour, 
about these indispensable items but the official stayed me with one 
of his lobster-red hands. 


Highway of the Sun 

"There is no need, Senor, of your going; I just happen to have 
here . . ," And he produced four large bags of coca leaves and sev- 
eral bottles of pure alcohol. By this time the Indian elders had ar- 

Each gave me a flaccid handshake, the white man's greeting which 
they perform limply. Each murmured a few words in sibilant Ay- 
mara, showing their stained teeth in a vacant smile of salutation. 
Their dress was a common one pants, jacket and high woolen 
poncho. All wore the cbullo, a crocheted stocking cap with earflaps, 
and all carried silver-headed sticks which are the wands of author- 
ity. I passed around generous glasses of "incentive," and after a 
while the chill of the atmosphere was noticeably warmed. The offi- 
cial spoke. "These scientists," he said solemnly, "have come here to 
Desaguadero to study the place where once the balsa bridge crossed 
the river. They want to assemble all the Indians, have them bring 
in their balsa, and before their eyes and their cameras they want to 
see how this ancient balsa bridge was made." 

He went on to ask if they remembered how it was made. At this 
they fell into excited talk among themselves, although no one 
seemed to be listening to anyone else. The oldest of them all said 
to be a century old at first sat quietly munching coca leaves, 
deaf to the talk-talk, but when it had gone on for a few minutes, 
he raised his wrinkled hand. In the silence that followed he spoke. 

It seems (so it was translated to me) that as a boy he had seen 
the bridge built; it had been the last of its kind. (If the old fellow 
really was a hundred that would have placed the erection of his 
bridge somewhat before the arrival of Squier in 1863.) The pon- 
toon had to be renewed every year, the old man went on; and every 
year each Indian had to make and deliver a thirty-five-foot balsa. 
One bridge was built here at Desaguadero and another at Nasacara 
farther down the river. 

I took Squier's book printed in 1870 and laid it in front of them. 


The Floating Road 

There on page 265 was a wood engraving of the balsa bridge at 
Nasacara, some fifty miles down the river to the southwest. It 
showed forty or more large balsas fastened together with ropes over 
which a reed road was laid. Two mules were crossing the bridge 
while women in native dress stood before stone towers to which 
the cables of the bridge were attached. Excitedly the Indian elders 
peered at the sketch, pointing to details of the bridge. Once again 
the old man held up his hand and, nodding as one who knows, said, 
"This is how the bridge was built." 

Through our interpreter I spoke: "Well, this is how we want the 
bridge built. Follow it as the ancient ones did it. Don't change any- 
thing. Come in the morning with your balsas; come with ropes, 
matting and totora grass; come in native dress; come on time. I 
will pay all who work, I will give all who come coca. I will give all 

And as an earnest I passed another round of coca leaves. 

The day for the bridge-building was clear, beautiful and cold. I 
never felt a New England winter-cold as intense as that in this vil- 
lage, which was on a direct line with the snow-topped mountains 
of Bolivia. From these the ice-laden winds raced across the lake, 
leaving a perpetual trail of what an eighteenth -century traveler 
called "frigorific particles." Charles, who had taken an early walk, 
had come back with his body ice-stiff from the cold, and with ici- 
cles in his beard. We prepared oatmeal on our paratrooper stove and 
drank multiple cups of coffee. It gave us courage to brave the 

There was no one in the streets at this hour. Our rendezvous was 
a spot where the rock from the eroded hills approached close to the 
lake. The lake itself was as rigid and as mirrorlike as glass. Around 
its shores ice clung to the reeds and fringed the moored balsa boats. 


Highway of the Sun 

A bird walked across it to stand and peer uncertainly in the stygian 
water. The snow-topped mountains in the distance were deep blue 
at first, shadowed and shimmering; then glowing, first green, then 
red, and, as the sun mounted, gold. It was breath-taking. Now In- 
dians began to arrive paced by the gobernadores carrying their sil- 
ver-headed sticks. Since they spoke little Spanish and we no Aymara 
speech, I broke the cold of our relationship by ordering our carriers 
to pass out hatfuls of coca leaves. 

At the signal, our Indians picked up their poles and made their 
way across the ice to their boats. Then the entire fleet of little boats, 
their totora-reed sails operating like Venetian blinds, sailed up the 
river toward the village. 

Lawrence waited on the small wooden bridge that today connects 
Peru with Bolivia to photograph the balsas sailing in single file un- 
der the bridge; at a predetermined spot below the modern bridge, 
the first balsas came to anchor and the others began to pile up, each 
holding to the sides of the other for anchor. A Bolivian soldier, muf- 
fled up with only his nose visible, leaned on his rifle staring at us 
with unseeing eyes; a few dogs barked; and an old woman, come to 
gather water in an earthen-red pot, watched us curiously. That 
was all. The place was as empty as the sky. So we set about our 

The reed boat is one of man's more fascinating inventions. It was 
perfected in those parts of Peru where there was no wood for boat- 
building. Around the littoral of Lake Titicaca, there is a profusion 
of totora, and it is this tubular reed, half an inch in diameter and 
eight feet in length, which furnishes the material for the boats. 
The making of reed boats is so ancient a craft that it is pictured on 
Peruvian pottery dating back to the first century B.C. 

The reed is dried, made into four cigar-shaped bundles, the length 
of the bundle determining the size of the projected reed boat. (Al- 


The Floating Road 

though the Indians can and do construct boats forty feet long, ca- 
pable of carrying sixty people, these are a rarity.) First, two of 
these bundles are tied with rope made from the twisted fibers of 
ichu grass to form the prow of the balsa boat. The other two, laid 
on top and off center, form the sides and the cabin of the boat. 
Using only such material as the lake offers, the balsa boat is com- 
pleted within two days. Sails also are made from the totora reed. 
Since the balsa has no keel, it cannot tack and can only sail in a fol- 
lowing wind, so propulsion is mostly by punting and, when the 
water is deep, by paddle. 

The buoyancy of the reed boat is amazing. The Egyptians used 
a similar type of craft made from the papyrus, and the White Nile 
is still navigated by the Kinka tribesmen in boats made of a batch- 
reed, so similar to the reed boats of Lake Titicaca that the parallel- 
ism in human invention is startling. 

Since man is a practical animal, he has made use of the floating 
bridge in many parts of the world, and here at Titicaca he made use 
of the reed boats as pontoons or foundations for the floating sec- 
tion of the Royal Road. 

The centenarian who had remembered the original directed the 
building of our bridge, so we had only to record and to watch. The 
main anchor was two poles stuck into the low bank of the river. To 
this a grass rope was attached; and this, in turn, passed along to all 
of the forty balsas, was seized by the occupants and fastened to the 
wooden pegs that had been driven into the boats' sides. "Within a 
short time all of the balsas were fastened together in a pontoon and 
anchored to poles driven in on the Bolivian side of the river. They 
were now stuffed with totora reed, forming a solid flooring. Then 
woven reed mats were laid on top and fastened to the sides. Al- 
though this was not as firm a bridge as that built by the Incas, it 
was a good facsimile. For that moment at least we had rolled back 


Highway of the Sun 

the flight of time, for there again a balsa pontoon bridge stood as it 
had centuries before. 

The moment had arrived for the dedication of our balsa bridge. 
We had so concentrated on watching the building of the balsa that 
we were unaware that we were being watched. But when we at- 
tempted to photograph a line of llamas being urged across the 
bridge, the press of people was so formidable that Lawrence could 
not even see the bridge. We would have preferred complete indif- 
ference. Instead there was utter chaos. The onlookers helped them- 
selves to the Indians' coca leaves. Bottles of alcohol disappeared; the 
[lamas, stampeded by the mob, ran rather than ambled in their 
usual stately walk across the balsa bridge. And above the din of 
voices, the town savant as drunk as the morning allowed was 
ittempting a speech, something about the greatness of the Incas. 

All the carefully laid plans of balsas and men dissolved in this 
:onfusion. We had hoped to cross the bridge, and go on to Huaqui 
n Bolivia where, according to Cieza, there were "buildings of 
;he Incas," there to begin the survey of that section of the Inca 
oad that ran through Bolivia and down into Argentina. But Bo- 
ivia was at the moment going through one of its periodic upsets, 
ind our experience with the balsa pontoon project was so frustrat- 
ng that we ended, for the moment, this phase of our search for the 
;outhern Royal Road at Desaguadero. 

However, the local savant, who was still trying in vain to make 
us speech, provided a measure of comic relief. For, angered at the 
ack of attention, he strode off across our balsa pontoon bridge. He 
lad gone only a few yards when he stepped into a vacant pocket of 
otora reed and, like Mephistopheles, disappeared as if swallowed up 
>y a trap door. The last we saw of him was his head, bobbing up 
jid down in the river, with the natives who had been clustered 
round the balsa bridge running down the bank in pursuit of him. 


I V 
Towers of the Dead 

W E WERE lost in a veritable forest of cbullpas, the stone Towers of 
the Dead. There were so many of them that they took in effect the 
place of trees. It was an eerie feeling as we rode north to come 
across these extraordinary tombs on a barren plain. "I was truly 
astonished," wrote Cieza, who in his travels had wandered among 
these same towers of the dead, "to see how little these people cared 
for the living while they bestow so much care on the tombs . . . as 
if happiness did not consist in something else. On the plains . . . 
the tombs were built in the form of small towers . . . according to 
the rank and wealth of those who built them. They carry the corpse 
to the place where the tomb is prepared . . . there they burn ten 
or more llamas . . . kill the women, boys and servants who are to 
accompany him on his last voyage. All these are buried in the same 
tomb with the body. The mourners then walk along uttering sad 
and mournful songs . . . while an Indian goes before them beat- 
ing a drum. The great tombs are so numerous that they occupy 
more space than is given to the living." 

On our way back to Puno, Silvia and I had decided to have a look 
at the high plateau that overlooked the lake, hoping to discover that 
section of the Inca road we had missed on our southward survey. As 
the land was too precipitous for the Power "Wagon to negotiate, 
Silvia and I, equipped with food and rifles, set off alone in the jeep. 
On our second day out we picked up the Inca road, lost it again, and 


Highway of the Sim 

then at Qutimbo we came to the forest of cfaullpas. As far as we 
could see there was nothing to relieve the eye except these stone 
burial towers. Fourteen feet high, some circular, others square, the 
Towers of the Dead were wonderfully fashioned of stone in the 
megalithic style, with huge polygonal rocks fitted together so ex- 
actly that even moss could not find lodgement. The corbeled vaults 
inside, almost as high as the towers, were of meticulous stonework. 
There were a few bone fragments lying about, and some bits of 
pottery not much more, for these tombs had been sacked first by 
the Incas and later by the Spaniards, and so thoroughly that just 
who built the Houses of the Dead has never been discovered. 

We wandered about the tombs for the rest of the morning, then 
in the afternoon set our course east, to search again for an elusive 
stretch of the Inca road. 

We drove endlessly, the sky above us angry and overcast, gray 
and somber. The land was as vacant as the open sea the undulat- 
ing puna might have been its waves and the lonely piercing cry 
of the gull, that of the seabird following the wake of a ship. Occa- 
sionally an Indian hovel would appear made of crumbling adobe 
and propped up against a lava boulder. Thatched with the same 
icbu grass which covered the plain, they were so well camouflaged 
that only on close inspection were we aware that these were houses. 

We were up 14,000 feet. I had not at first paid any attention to 
the jeep, although I should have remembered that lack of oxygen 
would reduce its efficiency. Now it began to sputter and, like our- 
selves, seemed to be gasping for air. The oil gauge took to oscillating 
madly and I realized that something was terribly wrong. Although 
we were only seventy miles as the condor flies from Puno, we were 
in effect hundreds of miles from effective aid. 

I tried to get to the top of the hill so that we could make a run- 
down in case we stalled, but we never got that far. Suddenly the 

Towers of the Dead 

jeep stopped dead as if it had struck a concrete wall. I looked at the 
motor a rather useless procedure, for my knowledge of such 
things is small and then unpredictably I was overcome by an im- 
mense weariness. I staggered back to get the tools and was so over- 
come with giddiness that I had to clutch the sides to keep from fall- 
ing backward. Silvia climbed out to help me extract the tools and 
that was enough. She too turned a pale-green color and cupped her 
hands over her eyes. 

As I clung to the car I knew that I had to force myself to do 
something about our problem, so I managed to propel myself for- 
ward and began to work on the engine. I released the brake and, on 
the assumption that a push might start the engine, went around 
back. One push and I slipped to the ground panting for breath. Sil- 
via came back to find out what was happening and, seeing me 
down, her strength too took flight. We found ourselves lying there, 
both as completely done in as if we had just run ten thousand 

As we lay there, I could hear my heart pounding, fighting against 
the decrease of oxygen. Yet in a few minutes I felt completely re- 
covered. I looked at Silvia. She was pale, her lips colorless; her pulse 
fluttered and her breathing was short and hardly audible. I stood up 
to get the medical box, and again the feeling of dizziness came over 
me. But this time I managed to stay on my feet long enough to boil 
a hypodermic needle, select an ampoule of caffeine sodium and in- 
ject it in her right arm. I followed this with an injection of adrena- 
lin. Presently she fell into an exhausted sleep and I, wearied by this 
simple effort, lay down beside her. 

There was a condor far up in the sky and I watched it gliding 
about effortlessly and wondered if it had any trouble with soroche. 
Then I recalled that physiologically a i2,ooo-foot elevation in 
the Andes was equivalent to 5000 in the Alps. At o feet of altitude, 
there is 760 mm. of atmospheric pressure. Here we were at 14,000 


Highway of the Sun 

feet where we had only 430 mm. of atmospheric pressure, allowing 
us a mere 86 mm. of oxygen tension. At this elevation anoxemia 01 
shortness of breath is a permanent condition, and soroche or acute 
mountain sickness is, for those not used to it, a little like experienc- 
ing death. I thought of Father Jose Acosta, a sixteenth-centur) 
trareler who was making his first trip across the Andes when it 
"came on him." 

Now some [said he] hold it to be a fable, and others say 'tis 
an exaggeration, but I will tell you what happened to me. 
There is in Peru a very high mountain range which they call 
Pariacaca; I went "upstairs" as they call it when you go up the 
highest part of the mountain range. There I was suddenly 
seized with such mortal anguish that I was of a mind to throw 
myself off the horse; I was seized with such retchings and vom- 
itings that I thought that I should give up my soul, for after 
the food came up and the phlegm, then came bile and more 
bile, this one yellow and the other green until next I spit up 
blood . . . finally I declare that if it had gone on, I believe I 
would most assuredly have died. This soroche happened be- 
cause the air is so thin and penetrating that it goes through 
one's bowels. . . . 

I did far better than the good Father. Within an hour I was at- 
tempting to work on the jeep, inveighing the while against that 
stupid "master" mechanic at Puno, for in taking out the vitals of 
the car he had apparently pinched the oil line with the result that 
the motor was frozen and the bearings burned out. The car would 
have to be towed. Although a mere fifty miles from Puno, we might 
as well have been on the moon! We could not both walk it that 
would be too much for Silvia, and I could not go alone and leave 
her. The cold was intense. Perhaps I could get some Indian at that 
last hut ... I wakened Silvia and told her of my plans, then I was 
off, following the spoor of our tires, and in less than an hour 
happily I was walking slightly downhill I came across an Indian 

Towers of the Dead 

house. The pale blue smoke mushroomed out from grass thatch, 
and after calling in vain for a few minutes I pushed against a door 
that hung so perilously on broken thongs that it almost fell at my 
touch. A small light from a cooking fire burned pallidly in the cor- 
ner of a room as small and as bare as a prison cell. I could just see 
the people in one corner. I spoke in halting Aymara. 

I explained; I imitated an automobile; I made noises of its dying; 
I tried as in a game of charades to explain my plight. I grant it was 
a poor performance but certainly, it seemed to me, they should un- 
derstand something. 

The group was seated around a large cooking pot. The men were 
dirty, the women disheveled. No one laughed, no one spoke. They 
swallowed and gulped in a kind of gloomy haste. A rather young 
woman, kneeling over the cooking pot extracting something with 
her fingers, had one enormous well-shaped breast exposed. To this 
a little boy clad only in a jacket, who had also been picking scraps, 
turned to suckle noisily. 

Our only chance of getting out of our difficulty was to make 
these people understand, to buy their aid, and, if that failed, some- 
how to compel them to aid me. Forcing myself to be patient, I be- 
gan again; they were unheeding all but a young boy who de- 
tached himself from the huddling group. 

"I understand Spanish." 

Did he know Puno? He did. Could he possibly know the Mission 
of the Maryknoll Fathers? 

"Oh, yes, I was taught to speak there/ 1 

Would he be willing for this amount of money I held up a 
sizable amount to take a message to Puno? For this too? In my 
right hand I held a mouth organ. . . . He was most willing. . . . 
I gave him the note asking for aid, the money, the mouth organ 
and a handful of coca leaves, and off he sped in the direction of 


Highway of the Sun 

I returned to the stranded jeep where Silvia, now somewhat re- 
covered, had the sleeping bag unrolled. We got out the paratrooper 
stove, took out the dehydrated soups and other emergency rations, 
gave ourselves a hot supper and spliced the main brace. Then, as 
night fell, we crawled into our sleeping bags. 

We were alone with the night. The wind howled across the puna 
bringing with it wisps of snow. Crawling deeper into our sleeping 
bags, we were dwarfed by the magnitude of the darkness. 

Three days later we came back to the Expedition house at Haqui, 
frozen and hungry and angry over the mishap that had used pre- 
cious time, unnecessarily exposed us to danger, and lost us our jeep. 
Shortly after our arrival 1 met the "master'* mechanic. He now 
chose the wrong moment to ask for more money and to his sur- 
prise I showered him with a colorful array of curses. He grew truc- 
ulent. He forgot his earlier obsequiousness and, as he came too close 
for my physical comfort, I pushed him. That set him off like a 
maniac. He came at me in the Puno free-style, legs and arms swing- 
ing. Whatever the gods that succored him, Master Pilon was in 
their good graces that day. He offered so many opportunities for 
me to break his head that I have often wondered how I managed to 
withhold myself. As it was, I easily warded him off and no blows 
were struck. 

Two hours later I was drafting my cable dispatch to the New 
York Times: 


Towers of the Dead 


I was aware that the iron gate of the villa was being shaken vig- 

"Francisco," I called. He appeared, his face an arabesque of wrin- 
kles set in a smile. 

"Ari," he answered. 

"Whoever is rattling that gate, tell them to go away. I am busy 
working, writing." 


The rattling went on. 

Francisco was back again. "It is, your Grace, the mechanic Pi- 
Ion . . ." 

"Tell him to go to the devil." 

"Ari. I have told him that, but he is there with the police, and 1 
they are armed with big rifles." 

"Well . . ." 

"It is as I say," insisted a blue clad officer of the National Police, 
"you must come with us. This man," and he indicated Pilon, who 
stood there in cat-swallowed-the-canary triumph, "accuses you of 
assaulting him. You must come within the hour and bring, if you 
have them, your witnesses." 

My witnesses, such as they were, were scattered, so I was later 
than the set hour when I arrived at the Police Station. I found the 
Chief of Police in a paroxysm of rage. I had shown him grave dis- 
respect by arriving late. I began to speak. I was silenced. 

"Twenty-four hours in jail and then pay this man whatever sum. 
he asks," he stormed. 

Highway of the Sun 

One's private affairs in these Andean villages know no escape 
from prying ears. All is known to all, and every private act be- 
comes at once part of the social fabric. Since nothing is private and 
everything is public, sides are taken at once and a whole village can 
be involved in an affair which is itself of little importance. 

So this incident which anywhere else would have been a small dis- 
pute between mechanic and client had now mushroomed up to 
dangerous proportions. I was now about to be marched off for a 
tenure in jail. I was understandably in a thoroughly defiant mood 
since the Expedition was under the protection of the Government. 
Then as if someone had suddenly turned on the light of reason, the 
police captain came back, his face wreathed in friendliness. He un- 
derstood our actions, the strain we had been under, the loss of time 
and equipment to the Expedition, and he apologized for the to-do. 
The mechanic, who had been sitting basking in his triumphs, was 
in utter bewilderment when he was actually shoved out the 

What in the world had happened to change the picture? Silvia 
and I were still puzzling over this when we emerged from the Po- 
lice Station to see Francisco Deza standing waiting for us with his 
quizzical smile reflected in his fine serious eyes. 

"At your service," he said, lifting his hat. 

"You did it?" asked Silvia. 

"Well . . ." 

Francisco Deza was the type of man that the early Spaniards had 
hoped would evolve out of the merging of the two bloods, native 
and Spanish. In him were blended the best elements of the two races. 
He spoke both languages with equal enthusiasm and, as Director of 
Rural Schooling, he had given his entire life to aiding the Indian 
within the framework of his own society. An avowed enemy of all 
Spanish rodomontade, he had wit, enthusiasm and direction. His 

Towers of the Dead 

house was book-filled. His wife, a charming woman who shared his 
interests, taught in an Indian school. Few aided our Expedition 
more than he. Once indeed he had saved Charles from imprison- 

"I was backing up the Power Wagon," so Charles had reported 
the incident, te and I backed into a power line; I never knew it until 
the whole business began to fall down on me. In no time a police- 
man was at the window and before I could even say who I was 
which would have been difficult as I don't speak Spanish and 
that the damage would be taken care of, I was hustled off to jail." 

But the affair of the "master" mechanic was far from ended. The 
matter continued to boil even as we carried on with our search 
around the lake. On a prolonged trip north, to the northern termi- 
nus of the lake, where the Rio Ramis enters Lake Titicaca, we trav- 
eled the path taken by the Inca road along the eastern side of Titi- 
caca toward Bolivia. 

On our return to Puno weeks later, I was asked to appear at the 
office of the Prefect where I was presented with an official docu- 
ment. This, he explained, was a charge to be laid before the Judge 
of the Criminal Section. In it, the mechanic accused me of assault 
and asked damages. . . . His claim? . . . That I had struck him 
with a heavy club breaking his arm, and that, therefore, he should 
be recompensed to the sum of five hundred soles for each day he had 
been incapacitated and, along with this, several thousand soles for 
punitive damages and . . . Medical affidavits? . . . Yes, there 
were several, attached to all these documents. . . . 

"Well, what did the Prefect wish us to do? ... It seems that he 
wished to save us embarrassment, and so had held up the document 
and had not submitted it to the Criminal Section, intending to wait 
until he consulted with us. For once it was filed, it would set off a 
train of events that he would find difficult to control. . . . 


Highway of the Sun 

"But it is absurd, these charges and the amounts asked. We'll dis- 
pute it/* I said. 

"That, of course, is your privilege, Senor. It will take time, drag 
out for years; you have no idea of the vagaries of the laws of my 

"Well, it can not matter much to us," said Silvia. "We shall be 
hundreds of miles from here/' 

"That is the point, Seiiora. You can be summoned back here at 
any time, which means your important work will be subject to con- 
stant harassment. Therefore, my advice would be . . ." 
"To buy him off!" 

He held out his hand in quizzical gesture. Who was it that said 
the human hand is about twenty thousand times more versatile than 
the mouth? That gesture conveyed everything. 
Rising, I said: "We shall consider it." 

All Puno, it seemed, was divided over the case. The episode was 
taking on a nasty turn. We were advised not to walk the streets 
after dark in Puno. 

It was Francisco Deza who worked out the solution. One day he 
appeared at the door. "Come with me to the Public Notary; I have 
some papers for you to sign. I believe there is a way out." 

In one of the cold little windowless niches that faced the main 
plaza, where the eighteenth-century Cathedral caught the first rays 
of a warming sun, we found the scrivener hunched over mounds 'of 
paper. Rising, he gave us a limp hand, asked us to be seated, and 
brought out a sheaf of papers. 

"Our counterclaim," said Deza, who, fortunately for us had 
made our problem his problem, "accuses Pilon of criminal negli- 
gence, of sending you out in a car which was unserviceable. You 
will sign." 

"Now," he said, pushing a second paper at me, "you sign this 
document. This will charge him for the loss of the jeep. That is 


Towers of the Dead 

50,000 soles and for the purchase of your new pickup, another 
90,000 soles. This, added to what you have lost each day through 
all this, makes our counterclaim 250,000 soles." 

Some days later we met Francisco Deza at the Plaza. With an ex- 
pressionless face he talked about everything except what we wanted 
most to hear. Then at last . . . 

"Oh, about Pilon! You know he has dropped his suit? And, by 
the way, you must sign this paper in which you withdraw your 
counterclaims. How did it come about? Well, before the papers 
were shown to him by the Prefect. I met him walking on the street 
with all the virile gladness of an unspotted soul. I told him I had 
overheard the Prefect talking about your counterclaim for 250,000 
soles, and I advised him as a friend to do something about it. 'These 
people are frightfully rich,' I said; 'they spend thousands while you 
spend only centavos they'll ruin you, brother Pilon, They'll ruin 
you.' Well, what could you do? he asked. Then I said I happened 
to know you and perhaps I could persuade you to drop your 
counterclaim if he would drop his. 'Anything, 5 he said, 'anything.* 
So today we visited the Prefect's office and signed the paper relin- 
quishing his claim. Case closed!" 


Into the Carabaya Country 

VVE HAD arrived at a point of decision. Here at the road junction 
of Juliaca, near the northern end of Lake Titicaca, we could either 
continue our road research toward Cuzco or we could venture east- 
ward into the mountains of the "verie riche river of the Carabaya." 
It was Willi Golz who weighted the scales in favor of the Carabaya. 

He was the finest mechanic in the entire southern section of the 
Peruvian Andes, and since he had spent so many years in remote 
places, Willi Golz was an almost legendary figure. During his Odys- 
sean wanderings he had installed electric plants, worked in mines 
and had been involved in so many different enterprises, all claiming 
his mechanical skill, that his little wasted figure and his dreadful 
cough, the result of gassing in World "War I, were known to many. 
Beaten by the passing years, almost as toothless as the day he was 
born, he had settled in Juliaca, where he owned a garage. Between 
the intervals of working on our trucks he told us about the world 
beyond he was a treasure house of information. 

ec lf you want Inca roads," said Willi Golz, as he sat on the run- 
ning board of our truck, "y u must go to the Carabaya. There I 
have seen stone steps going up the mountains so" and he moved 
his hands in an ascending series of gestures: ^up and up, one, two, 
three thousand steps." And, sensing our almost hypnotic interest, he 
went on, te "Who but Incas would have built like this in the Car a- 


Into the Carabaya Country 

baya? Yes, I have seen these, and when Willi Golz says such-and- 
such is there, it is there." 

Our notes had given hints that, off to the east of the Lake Titi- 
caca basin, there was evidence of Inca roads which led into these 
little-known mountains. However, on our field maps these were no 
more than a line of provocative asterisks. Now we had the con- 
firmation of the existence of such roads. 

In the full glare of the sun, we spread out our charts. Looking at 
these maps, we could see that we would have been wiser to pursue 
the known route of the Royal Road, moving toward Cuzco. Yet 
here we were, at the gateway to the mysterious Carabaya and those 
Inca roads which climbed up thousands of steps into the puna like 
stairways to the moon. 

The American Geographical Society map gave us a graphic pic- 
ture of the topography. The vast Carabaya country lay midway be- 
tween the environs of Lake Titicaca and that part where the Andes 
begin their precipitous drop into the jungles. Glacial valleys lay 
close to snow-bound peaks, which in turn were flanked by still 
higher peaks. Then the land fell downward into deep valleys and 
cascading rivers, which rushed on through forest-covered montanas 
into lowland jungles. This was the Carabaya. 

The map showed four large rivers the San Gaban, the Huari- 
Huari, the Tambopata and the Inambari also a bewildering num- 
ber of smaller ones which apparently cut their way through an ut- 
terly wild country. It was a land of extremes. Here and there, dots 
pin-pointed villages hanging, so it seemed, from the clouds: Aya- 
pata, Ituata, Usicayos ... all held together by stone-laid Inca 
roads. Willi leaned over the map, "And there is gold there, too, 
floods of placer gold." He pointed. "See those little marks? Well 
these are the places where they found the gold of the highest carat 
in Peru." That, then, was the reason why the conquistadores called 
it "the verie riche river of Carabaya." 


Highway of the Sun 

I glanced at Silvia, who was staring fixedly at the map. She knew 
what these contours in the map meant. The going would be diffi- 
cult; there would be bad food and insect-infested sleeping 
places. . . . 

At dawn around Titicaca Lake, it is winter; at about eight 
o'clock, with the arrival of the sun, it is spring; and when the sun 
reaches its zenith, it is summer. One passes through the seasons 
within a few hours. 

When we started out from Juliaca the next daybreak after first 
thawing out the motors, we rode in those first hours with frost 
thick on the windows. Yet, once we rounded the northern shore of 
Lake Titicaca, we found ourselves caught in one of the contradic- 
tions of this climate. Here at 13,000 feet the shores were alive 
with bird life. Rose-colored flamingos birds I have always asso- 
ciated with the tropics went stalking by, maintaining their bal- 
ance on the ice in stately fashion; there were ducks in profusion; 
and sooty-black ibis, and white-winged aerie gulls all of them 
seemingly as unperturbed by the freezing winds as if they were 
only tropic breezes. 

The marshland about the lake was as flat as the velds of Africa, 
and as treeless as the moon; we went snaking around on a raised 
causeway through a continuous bog. As far as we could see behind 
us, the land was waterlogged. Once we were out of the swamps, we 
came onto a plain dotted with what at first glance appeared to be 
tepee-shaped dwellings. Then, as we drew nearer and had a good 
look, we saw that they were the twenty-foot high mud houses 
of the Aymara-speaking lake Indians. Fashioned out of tundra- 
turf which had been cut like flat adobe blocks, each house was 
built so that the blocks converged toward the top, leaving an open- 

Into the Carabaya Country 

ing which became in this singular windowless niudhouse a 

Within, each house was as snugly warm as an oven and as filthy 
as an abattoir. Untanned cowhides stretched out on the hard baked- 
mud floor were the beds, the piles of blankets upon them emitting 
an overpowering stench. In one corner the untended fire consumed 
cow dung; on the blackened walls hung bright woolen festive 
clothes, with next to them the carcasses of flayed sheep. On the one 
hand we had the beauty of the land; on the other, the filth of these 
human habitations. 

Beyond the environs of Titicaca, we continued through villages 
of monotonous sameness. Presently we had left these behind us and 
began the climb. All through the day we climbed. In the late aft- 
ernoon we came to the village of Asillo and a swift-flowing stream 
which was none other than that <e verie riche river of Carabaya," the 
waterway to the region of the same name. 

The village was, or rather had been, a tampu station on the Inca 
road. That the ancient highway had passed through here was at- 
tested to not only by the ruins which we could see like jagged scars 
on the bare hills but by our ever helpful friend and guide, Pedro 
Cieza de Leon. At the plaza in Asillo, we stopped to look at our 
maps and I opened my Cieza: "From Ayaviri, another road goes to 
Oma-suyu it passes by the large village of Asillo . . ." 

High on the hill that shadowed Asillo in the late afternoon 
the natives call it the Hill of Calvary was the ruin of this same 
village. Undoubtedly so placed to keep it out of the reach of the 
lake's periodic overflowing and away from the marshes, it was at 
once a high-top fortress and the way station. 

From the plaza of Asillo, a dirt road traveled toward the north- 

Highway of the Sun 

west in the same direction taken by the Inca road into the Cara- 
baya country, that region from which the early Spaniards took 
more than 1,700,000 pesos of gold of "such fineness that it ex- 
ceeded the standard/' 

The most surprising feature of Asillo was its church. An imposing 
structure of carved red stone with a marvelous three-storied f agade, 
it was done in Indian baroque style with a strong Quechua flavor. 
Likenesses of Indians, guardians of the Sacred Heart, accoutered 
with feathered headdresses a detail rarely found in church 
sculpture were carved on the doorway. Almost twenty years in 
the building (16781696), it had throughout a strong native ac- 
cent. "We found the Indian name of the architect carved on an 

Once the Church of San Jeronimo de Asillo had had a thick grass 
roof the contrast between the plaited straw and the rich carv- 
ing must have been fantastic but now the roof was of galvanized 
iron. The interior was equally noteworthy. Enormous canvases of 
the life and times of San Jeronimo, the church's patron saint, as 
painted by Indian artists in one of the seventeenth-century ateliers 
of Cuzco, were hung in enormous barbaric frames with a wealth of 
gold lead adornment. With its great baroque porticoes and the bar- 
baric wealth of a parvenu, all designed and executed by Indians, it 
was a bewildering contrast. 

We followed the Carabaya River on into the precipitous hills. 
Not overly wide, the river which was deep and swift, had grooved 
out a canyon during the millennia of its existence. Now wide and 
sterile pampas alternated with weird upthrusts of limestone and 
granite mountains. Atop these crags were more burial chullfcas, 
which at Cerro Inampu appeared as ruined medieval battlements 
offering their mummified dead to the fury of Andean climate. 

Into the Carabaya Country 

After several hours of slow travel, we suddenly were aware that 
we were actually paralleling the course of an ancient roadbed which 
ran above the river level etched, as it were, into the high banks. 

At one of the bends of the road where the river narrowed and was 
compressed between stone embankments, we came upon a platform 
cut into the living rock, an outcrop of which had been chipped 
away to receive the cyclopean stones. The rounded towerlike base 
terminated in two piers eight feet higher than the ramp, and on 
these the rope cables of the bridge were suspended. The bastions on 
the other side of the river were similarly constructed. In a deserted 
house nearby we found the bridge itself, a skein of rope cables and 
guy ropes which when unwound became the suspension hangings. 
The bridge was evidently still used and had only been put away un- 
til the onslaught of the rainy season. 

As we went on, we found ourselves time and again traveling 
along a narrow road, the importance of which to the Incas was indi- 
cated by the numerous ruins of bridge sites along its route. Again 
we climbed this time from the river up into an immense black- 
ness. The twisting and turning of the road took us higher and yet 
higher, carrying us up to the snowy crests. 

Silvia and I led the caravan in the jeep. The slower Power Wagon, 
carrying a ton or more of equipment, was far behind, growling in 
low gear. At times we glimpsed it, far, far down, a swatch of red 
against the gray-black desolation of rock. 

It was a tortured grassless land as unliving as the desert. As we 
wound our way upward, it was like climbing out of a crater's 
mouth, round and round, out of the blackness into the light. 

When we gained the top we found we were on another wide 
wasteland which stretched away, patterned only here and there by 
greensward. With scarcely a rock or a tree to break the icy blast, it 
was a stony nakedness swept by unremitting winds. The only living 
things other than ourselves were four watchful vicunas who, stand- 

Highway of the Sun 

ing high on a peaked ridge, curiously observed our coming. When 
we halted and I climbed out to photograph them, they disappeared 
in a concerted leap. After they were gone, the shrill warning whis- 
tle of the male floated down to us. 

Night was coming on. The long shadows fell across the empty 
way, and we looked at the altimeter. "We were close to 15,000 feet 
up. Our motor was turning sluggishly and we ourselves were expe- 
riencing the now familiar onrush of mountain sickness. My own 
heart pounded as if it would tear loose from its moorings, and my 
eardrums were closed. We must have presented a strange picture sit- 
ting there unmoving like wax images, our faces set, our breathing 
labored, as stiff as an exhibit in a wax museum. As best I could, I 
went through the mechanical details of driving. 

Where, I wondered desperately, was Macusani, gateway to the 
Carabaya? As if the compassionate gods had heard me, the land sud- 
denly dipped down, a wide chasm opened up to the left, and there 
were the small flickering lights of Macusani. Wordlessly we looked 
at the magnificent sight before us. Out of the dark void already lost 
in shadow rose the snow mountains of Allin-capac, reflecting the 
last light of a setting sun which the Indians in their poetic way 
called "Magnificent [Allm] Youth \_capac~\" In its reflected light 
we skidded down the slippery road into the village. 

Macusani was, as Willi Golz said it would be, both high and cold; 
but the twentieth century had found it out. Electric lights illumi- 
nated the plaza and the stores. They were not the pallid little lights 
of other mountain villages, where one has to use a match to find the 
switch in order to turn them off. This was light, Golz-installed, 
constant and direct. The village, nearly three miles high and so 
above the natural range of plant and man, was devoid of most of 
the other comforts of normal living. The villagers huddled around 
the open doors of the stores, shivering in their woolen ponchos. The 
dwellings were low and squat and of mud; the adobe church had a 


Into the Carabaya Country 

storied tower roofed with straw, and an open belfry. The bronze 
bell, thick with verdigris, bore the date 1607. Under the belfry 
was a sound box, a makeshift radio which gave out such raucous 
music that it drove us out of the plaza to find shelter elsewhere. 

A man to whom we applied for rooms welcomed us, opened his 
door wide, and in we tumbled. Our trucks did not need watching, 
he said, for within the hour the natives would be either too drunk 
or too frozen to steal anything. By this time we were too numb to 
worry. He showed us our quarters. It was a good thing that he was 
too poor, as he said of himself, to afford electric light. One good 
look at what we were sleeping in would have driven us out again 
into the freezing night. If Nature has given us ignorance to act as 
eyelids for our souls, she certainly here in the Andes had given us 
night to obscure our surroundings. Although we were famished, 
none of us had the energy to bother with our supplies* We each had 
a hot toddy, a barbiturate for sleep, an aspirin for our altitude head- 
aches, and then we all sought oblivion in the sleeping sacks. Across 
the plaza the radio was blaring out a mambo. 

A curse on WiJli Golz and his electric generator, I thought, as I 
drifted off . 

"Your Grace, I have the honor . . /' Dawn had come to Macu- 
sani. I opened one eye still heavy with barbiturate-induced sleep, 
shook my head in an effort to drive away the cobwebs and there 
again was the insistent voice: "Your Grace . . ." 

I zippered open my mummy v sack and came out of it like an in- 
sect emerging from its pupa. Standing over me was a man of uncer- 
tain age, unshaven and wall-eyed a a pike. He had a thick cob -nose 
and thinning hair which hung down, to his shoulders. His cavernous 
mouth was filled with ill-set yellow te\^th. As he talked, he thought- 
fully explored the inner rim of a nostril with a dirty forefinger. 

Highway of the Sun 

The contrast between his appearance and his cultured speech was 
amazing. His was not the speech of a mountaineer, a broken thread- 
bare limping speech. 

"Your Grace," he said, "your f am ^ leaping over the Andean 
crags, has penetrated even these remote regions, which know only 
the hindquarter of God. Yes, your fame has swept the lofty Andes 
and you will one day rank . . ." 

"The Lord-Inca!" I exclaimed, and turned back into my sleeping 

Unmindful, he went on. "Yes, even as the great Raimondi gave 
us the best days of his years . . /' 

From deep down in his sleeping sack in another room, Daugherty 
groaned. "Whatever it is, ask no questions, shoot it first. What is he 
saying? 3 * 

Dimly I realized that we were being invited somewhere. I sat up 
quickly. "You were saying ...?'* 

"That I have the honor to explain that my patron, who is, so to 
speak, the Lord of the Manor of Macusani, sends his greetings and 
through me begs leave that you consider his house your own 
and . . ." 

Charles Daugherty stood in the doorway clad only in his long 
red underwear. With his beard and puffed eyes, he could have been 
a doughty conquistador just recently poured out of his armour. 
"Well, then . . ." 

Our visitor looked from one to the other. As the representative 
of Macusani's most important official, he could not fathom our 
jesting about so formal an invitation. So I put matters right. Slip- 
ping into my clothes, I put on my fur-lined jacket and my tyrolean 
hat with its medallions and luxuriant gamsbart. I bowed low and 
asked him to lead the way. 

His patron turned out to he a charming person. Don Luis re- 
ceived us from his gleaming metal bed. An imposing sight with 

Into the Carabaya Country 

his olive skin, black twirled mustache and impudent eyes, he lay 
propped up by enormous pillows, exhibiting the while pajamas 
which were cut like a hussar's jacket with silken arabesques encir- 
cling the buttons. Above the brass bed was an oleograph of Christ, 
wli'le within arm's reach was an electric heater and an expensive 
radio. The room reeked of eau de cologne and sanctity. 

The large house with its leaded windows had a neat thatched 
roof, giving it an air of distant English moors, and also, so Silvia 
whispered, a real functioning toilet, a small miracle in this region. 
Don Luis offered a hand on which was displayed a huge aquama- 
rine, and then motioned us toward chairs. Everything here indi- 
cated a comparative opulence. Along with vast wealth, which came 
from his ownership of vast herds of alpacas, the real wool -bearing 
member of the llamoids, went considerable political power. He had, 
so we learned from the villagers, fought with the Communists in 
Spain when it was fashionable to be inclined to the Left. Later he 
became a Nationalist identifying himself with the Agrarian Party. 
But now that the turn of the political kaleidoscope had brought on 
new patterns, he had found it expedient to side with the party in 
power. He had, however, been extremely politic, and had offered 
himself as candidate for congress in all parties, and had been unani- 
mously elected. 

Don Luis had read in the Lima papers, it appeared, of our prog- 
ress, and he had hoped that we would arrive here on our way to 
these parts. We had heard of course of the Inca roads in the Cara- 
baya that threaded through the montana? It was all quite true, he 
assured us. Moreover, there were ancient cities in the region whicK 
no archaeologists had ever seen. Now that we were here, what were 
our plans and how could he further them? We explained that this 
was only a reconnaissance and that we had unfortunately a very 
tight schedule since in our travels we must avoid the rains. There- 
fore all we could hope to do now was to cover as many of the roads 

Highway of the Sun 

as possible and later return for a specific expedition to further ex- 
plore the Carabaya. In order not to duplicate our effort, and know- 
ing how difficult it was to arrange horses and pack animals for a 
large party, Silvia and I had planned to go on alone. We would need 
only two pack animals and two horses. Meanwhile Lawrence and 
Charles were to continue their special project, the study and pho- 
tographing of the alpaca in its native environment. Also while they 
were here, they would like to photograph and if possible capture a 
condor alive. 

Our host put a fresh cigarette in an extravagantly long holder 
and, caressing his mustache very delicately, observed that Silvia and 
I would need at least two riding horses, two pack animals, four 
Indians and a guide. As for those who wished to catch a condor, 
they would need a dead animal and they too must have Indians and 
saddle horses. He pursed his lips while making the calculations; 
then he clapped his hands. At once, as if he had been shot out of 
the floor, our friend of the extravagant manners appeared. Our de- 
sires and our needs were outlined. 

"Remember," said our host, emphasizing each word with a stab 
of his cigarette holder. "Tomorrow without fail. I do not want our 
friends to be held up a single moment." Then he turned to us and 
the interview ended. 

shook the hand with its large aquamarine and departed. 

We were following a high Inca road which my altimeter showed 
wa$ at an elevation of 14,800 feet. As soon as we were out of Macu- 
sani, we had picked up this highway which led to the montana. 
Built to be only a lateral road to the fabulous gold regions .of the 
Carabaya, it had been as well constructed as the main Royal Road. 
A low stone wall marked its boundaries, culverts were spanned with 
small stone bridges, and on the slopes the road was built up and 


Into the Carabaya Country 

made level with dry-laid masonry. And though thousands of ani- 
mals had traversed it in four hundred years, kicking paving stones 
loose with their iron-shod hoofs, the road was still essentially in 
good condition. And what grandeur! Here we were, traveling over 
a road constructed some five hundred years earlier, which skirted 
lakes and clung to mountains. Built for eternity, it had withstood 
the assaults of nature, and, running like a long wound through 
the region, it would yet remain visible for centuries. 

Presently we came to a glacier under which the road passed. 
Here the engineers, anticipating the glacier's movement, had raised 
a retaining wall to catch the cascading rocks and to divert the 
snows high above the road. Here and there the eternal sweep and re- 
treat of the glacier had sent rock crashing into and destroying a 
part of the road, but generally speaking it was in a good state of 

At noon we came to our first apacheta, one of the stone propitia- 
tory cairns that we were to find at frequent intervals along the way. 
A pyramid shaped of small rocks ranging in size from small nug- 
gets to those the size of a human hand, these stone piles are to be 
found on the highest passes of the road. Our Indians as they passed 
now reverently added their stones. Not to be outdone, we did the 
same. From now on in the high mountain areas, wherever there 
was an Inca road or where one had been, we were to find an 
apache fa: apa (burden), chef a (depositor). The stone thus became 
a symbol of the burden, and the placing of a stone an act of horn- 
age. An early traveler described these piles of stones, which are built 
up in every mountain pass and crossroad: "The Indians carry a 
stone picked up on the trail a little while before arriving; they be- 
lieve that by adding to that apacheta, they leave their tiredness be- 
hind and that the gods will give them new strength/' 

This first cairn marked the continental divide. From this point 
all the rivers would flow toward the Amazon. We had now entered 

Highway of the Sun 

the "verie riche land of Carabaya." We could see ahead of us 
chasms cut deep into the mountains, fog poured in from the forests 
and hundreds of little ice-cold rills tinkled out of marsh and tarn, 
all Amazon-bound. Even the "air-temper," as the chroniclers 
called it, changed once we were over the divide, or perhaps it was 
just that we were becoming acclimated to the high altitudes. Below 
us in the rift of clouds we could see a wild country, jagged and sav- 
age in its violence. I knew that this was a region where we must 
travel alertly or perish. At best this was hazardous traveling for 
which there had been no careful ground preparation we were 
just riding off into the unknown. We followed the road over moun- 
tains and down the precipitous descents to the valleys; we followed 
it to the edge of lakes and around glaciers. 

As we drove, I understood better than ever what the good Cieza 
felt as he traveled this same route: 

One of the things which I admired most was the way the In- 
dians could have made such grand and admirable roads along 
such dizzy and frightful abysses that, on looking down, the 
sight failed one. In some places, to secure the standard road 
width, it was necessary to hew a path out of the living rock; all 
of which was alone done with fire and their picks. In other 
places the ascents were so steep and high that the steps had to 
be cut from below to enable the ascent to be made, with wider 
spaces at intervals for resting places. In other parts there were 
avalanches of snow, which were more to be feared. . . . 
Where these snows obstructed the way, and where there were 
forests of trees and loose clods of earth, the road was levelled 
and, when necessary, paved with stones. 

On the third day out of Macusani we dropped down to the Tam- 
billo valley and found that here the road ran along the riverbed. 
We had heard much about the paved roads of the Incas but until 
this moment we had not seen any. Now we were riding over 


Into the Carabaya Country 

enormous stones. Silvia turned to me in astonishment: "It looks 
just like the Appian Way!" 

The roadbed was constructed of huge paving stones sunk deep 
into the ground with drains cleverly laid and so well preserved that 
it could have been yesterday rather than the year 1400 when these 
were put down. Had there been any lingering doubts about the In.- 
cas* right to be known as road builders, they were dispelled by one 
look at this Tambillo road. Generally the Incas avoided water, and 
fearing wet earth they placed their roads high above the reach of 
rivers which here rise with great swiftness. But at this point, for 
some reason, they had run their road at the river's edge and had 
paved it with these immense flat stones so that it would be imper- 
vious to the rampaging river. Over this pavement we followed a 
herd of llamas into the village. 

We stopped for the night in Tambillo. It lay in a small valley 
at the base of abruptly rising hills, which in former times had been 
terraced. The village was Indian, or almost entirely so, and Que- 
chua was its language. Here in the declining light we talked to the 
villagers, who gathered about us, and from them we chose our In- 
dians for the morrow's trek. One of them, Cutimbo, whose bronze 
skin was like beaten copper and who spoke broken Spanish and 
seemed more knowledgeable than the rest, we selected as our head 

The present village of Tambillo is but a short distance from the 
ancient tampii, which we could see on a promontory in the opening 
of another valley. Cutimbo took us there. 

That afternoon while the light still held we visited the ruins. They 
consisted of several structures, all of dry-laid masonry, and a small 
plaza around which were grouped various buildings, one of which 
contained a stone table arranged with seats and steps. The road 
bifurcated here. One section went up a steep hill in a superb sweep 
of steps called pata-pata by the Indians. This was the road to Itu- 

Highway of the Sun 

ata connecting the tampu stations of Aya-pata and Ollachea. To 
the left and east of the path we were to take on the morrow, the 
road led to an amazing stone bridge such as we had not seen before. 
It had been made wholly of stone. Inca engineers, cutting into the 
living rock which protruded on both sides of the gorge, had built 
up the walls and gradually extended the larger rocks into a corbeled 
arch, and had bridged the gap with four gigantic fourteen-foot 
lengths of rectangularly cut stone. The approaches on both sides 
were also of stone. It was a marvelously ingenious piece of con- 

Kara-waya is a Quechuan word, kara meaning ct wound." And 
now as we rode along we could see how beautifully expressive the 
language is. We were in a country marked by gaping abysses, a hu- 
mid unhealthiness in its rivers and a terrible cold in its heights. We 
had climbed the Inca step-road out of Tambillo valley steps that 
went up, up, up I counted over one thousand, and then lost 
count until we had come out once again on the puna. The land 
was broken and filled with upthrust rock of reddish granite that 
assumed fantastic forms. Through this we followed the track with 
our safari of horses, llamas and Indians. As the rising sun touched 
the tops of the rocks to gold, we came out of a rock passage to find 
the road running along the side of a terrifying chasm, so deep that 
we never once glimpsed the river, yet we constantly heard its dull 
roar, the sound ricocheting against the vertical rock walls. It was 
easily two thousand feet down. It seemed scarcely credible that 
workmen had once crawled up that precipice and, with a tenacity 
which now defies our understanding, had built up agricultural ter- 
races to its very edge. This was the Kara-waya, alternately cold and 
hot, rain-filled and fever-filled a forbidding land, entered only 
to fulfill the wishes of the Lord Inca for the Carabaya's gold. "In 


Into the Carabaya Country 

Peru," wrote a sixteenth-century lawyer to his Viceroy, "there are 
gold mines in many places, as for instance in Carabaya ... in 
which the Indians* labor is greater beyond comparison because the 
air-temper therein is so hurtful they are in the water all the time 
washing ore . . ." 

In time the Carabaya became the graveyard of countless thou- 
sands of Indians who labored to pry out the metal which the Incas 
regarded as the "sweat" of the sun. Yet the terraced plots on the 
vertical hills overlooking the river gorge indicated long occupation 
while the carefully constructed roads suggested great movement. 

The road along the chasm now became so treacherous that Silvia, 
preferring to trust her safety to her own two feet, dismounted. 
Hung over the edge and narrowed now to less than four feet, the 
trail made a tumble off into space very possible, and very soon I fol- 
lowed her sensible example and together we walked gingerly along 
that narrow way, hugging the rock wall. Landslides, the result of 
the torrential rains, had destroyed sections of the road, and every 
now and then a gap appeared. Picking our way carefully across the 
disarranged stones, we came to one place where the gorge was most 
precipitous and the road all but gone. Our guide, Cutimbo, went 
first holding the rope of the lead horse. Silvia's mount followed 
with difficulty since some of the large paving stones which once 
formed the road were perched on end. The vertical wall to the 
right went straight up, only spined cactus grew in the interstices 
of the rock, and to our left was the void of the chasm. Next it was 
the turn of our lead cargo mule. It carried two large boxes and our 
canvas bags containing our beds and sleeping bags. An intelligent 
mule, it sniffed at the situation and, not liking it, hesitated for a 
moment before it moved rapidly across the uncertain road. In the 
center a rock slipped. Frightened, the beast doubled its hind legs 
into a leap and so gained our side. The next mule, equally terrified, 
stepped on the loosened stones, which began to slide. The startled 


Highway of the Sun 

beast leaped toward a narrow edge, but one of the boxes it carried 
struck against the cliff, throwing it completely off balance. There 
the poor creature hung for a moment; then with a terrific crash it 
slid back onto the trail, pushing out a loose section of the road. 
Both dropped over the edge, to disappear below. It was an awful 
moment. First there was a dull thud, then the splinter of boxes, 
followed by the rattle of cooking gear striking the cliffs. 

When the dust lifted and the landslide had rolled down and over 
the gorge, we were amazed to see that where the road had been 
there was now nothing but a gaping crater. On one side there was 
the ascending rock; on the other an interval of at least twenty feet 
which as effectively cut us off from the others as if an impassable 
river flowed between us. They could not advance we could not 
retreat. Aghast, we stood looking across the gap at the Indians gath- 
ered on the other side. Recovering somewhat I asked if there was 
another road. 

"Ari, but we must first reach Pukuta. From there another road 
leads back," said Cutimbo. 

"How far is it?" 

He did not know. He had not been over this route since he was 
a boy, but he thought it must be at least six leagues about eight- 
een miles. I looked at the sun. We would not have much more day- 
light for making our way along this narrow trail. I thought sadly 
of the food which had gone with the mule over the cliff. 

"Tell them" I indicated the Indians who stood stolidly on 
the other side "tell them that they are to go back to Tambillo, 
obtain food and take the other road to Pukuta and meet us there." 
The message delivered, I wrapped some paper money around a rock, 
tied it and threw it across to them. As soon as they had disengaged 
the money from the stones, they turned their llamas around and 
moved off* 

The night shadows thrown by the towering cliffs brought the 


Into the Carabaya Country 

first hints of cold. By five in the afternoon, twilight would be on 
us, and after that we would have to prepare for the night. Camping 
on a three- foot- wide ledge with no shelter from wind or rain was 
not a bright prospect. Cutimbo, who had gone on, came running 
back to tell us that there were some large caves ahead. The sky 
darkened, rain began to fall, and by now the shadows were so ink- 
black that I had to use my torch at some spots. During some fright- 
ful geologic nightmare, the Andes bubbled into a boiling upthrust 
and rock bubbles had burst and cooled, leaving enormous caves 
along the canyon wall. One of them, directly above us, looked large 
enough to house ourselves and the animals; and while Cutimbo be- 
gan to make the ascending steps more secure, I tended to such sup- 
plies as were left. First we brought up the boxes, a difficult opera- 
tion, then the sleeping bags, and then, by urging and pulling, we 
succeeded in getting the animals themselves up to the cave, a sorry 
substitute for night quarters, which gave out a loathsome odor. 

"At least the beds and sleeping sacks were saved," Silvia observed 
philosophically as we unpacked. 

Happily we had some emergency rations a tin of Nescafe, 
some bouillon cubes, a canteen of water, the paratrooper stove, a 
few bars of chocolate and my cameras. Everything else had 
gone with the doomed mule. Cutimbo was a godsend. He climbed 
out on the edge of the nothing that was our world to cut some grass 
for the horses and the two mules. Next he brought in a few faggots 
he found. Our supper consisted of a cup of bouillon, black coffee 
and a piece of chocolate each. Outside it stormed and raged; thun- 
der echoed through the gorge to mingle with the roar of the swol- 
len river. Gusts of wind blew in the cave, making it impossible to 
keep alight our small candles: The Indian wrapped himself in his 
poncho and crawled into the sweat-filled mule blankets, while 
we slid into our sleeping bags and in a moment were snug and 


Highway of the Sun 

We could not help laughing at the irony of the moment. Here 
we were lost, cut off from everything and everyone. We had lost 
most of our food, what small supplies we had now would not last 
for more than two days, and yet here we were lying in comfort in 
our luxurious sleeping bags. In the darkness we discussed our pros- 

"What do you suppose is in this deep cave?" Silvia asked, sniffing 
audibly. "Do you think there are any animals in here?" 

For answer I picked up my torch and swung it around the cave. 
Stalagmites were hanging from the ceiling; there was the steady 
drip of water and there seemed to be some past evidence of occupa- 
tion. Then my light froze. In the back of the cave were several 
mummies. One, its sack broken open and its arms and legs flexed 
to its body, sat with its hair streaming down from its mummified 
skull. The head was thrown back as if it was laughing at us with 
all its might! 

Cutimbo left, as prearranged, at daybreak. I brewed some coffee 
for him over the paratrooper stove, gave him the last of the choco- 
late and then with such words of cheer as I could muster in Que- 
chua, sent him off down the path. I watched until he disappeared. 
We had agreed that he should go ahead to see if the road was pass- 
able and to ascertain if we could get to Pukuta. If not, then our 
only way was to go back again to where the avalanche occurred 
and somehow get over that road. When he had gone we de- 
cided to have a look at the mummies which Silvia had now dis- 

Our examination of the pottery fragments which lay about in- 
dicated by their design that they were "Cuzco polychrome" and 
probably had been made about 1450. The mummies were all male 
and the weavings poor. There were pieces too of some wooden tools. 


Into the Carabaya Country 

One bronze piece was a sort of metal wedge which could have been 
used in mining. We had, we suspected, come across a burial cave 
of Indian miners, some of those who had gone to the Karawaya to 
get out the gold for the Inca. These were fragments of a long-ago 
-existence these fragile pieces of cloth which dropped apart at the 
touch, these remarkably well-preserved skeletons and pieces of pot- 

The valley lay in deep shadow when I went out again to look for 
Cutimbo. As I was searching the canyon, pebbles rolled noisily 
down from the cliff. Instinctively I drew back. On a high ridge 
four guanacos were feeding. I called Silvia. My Remington rifle had 
never been properly zeroed, I had no telescopic sight, nor had I the 
means of gauging the wind; and the animals were at least 1000 feet 
away. The only thing in my favor was that I was in the shadow and 
could neither be seen nor scented at this distance. I knew that the 
moment I fired they would all bolt, so I chose the largest of the four 
and aimed for the shoulder. The sound ricocheted about the can- 
yon. The four guanacos sprang up the side of the steep cliff as easily 
as if they were running on level ground. 

Then suddenly the largest animal slipped, missed a projecting 
rock, fell half backward, recovered, then began a rapid descent, its 
sharp hoofs instinctively digging into the soil. It landed on the nar- 
row road only five hundred feet from where we stood. I slipped 
another shell into the chamber. The guanaco rose unsteadily, wav- 
ered. Then, its front knees buckling, it sank to a kneeling position, 
its head slipped forward and it was dead. 

I had already begun to flay the animal when Cutimbo appeared. 
He had found the way to Pukuta, he said; it was open. Then as 
he dropped the load of firewood he had been carrying the two of us, 
impelled by hunger and companionship, fell to work on the still 
warm guanaco. 


Highway of the Sun 

A day later we reached the ruins of the ancient mining village of 
Pukiita. It lay at the junction of two rivers, raised so the rising 
waters could not reach it. On our second day there, our other In- 
dian who had been cut off by the avalanche arrived with food. 

Had they delivered the messages? They had. But in this land of 
extremes, where everything was an exaggeration, the message,, 
highly embroidered in the telling, was that we had gone over the 
cliff and were washed down the river. The news reached the local 
newspapers in Puno, who talked to their office in Arequipa, who 
talked to Lima, who cabled to New York. As we were to learn 
weeks later, the New York Times carried the following dispatch: 

Von Hagens Overdue 3 Days on Inca Highway 

Search parties are being organized to go into the jungle to 
search for Victor von Hagen, leader of the Inca Highway Ex- 
pedition of the American Geographical Society, and his wife 
Silvia, who left the Lake Titicaca on May 20 for the desolate 
interior of Peru to seek the mysterious Inca Highway. They 
are now three days ovedue at Ayapata, to which point they 
were descending after having crossed the 1 5,000 foot high Cor- 
dillera Oriental. Mr. von Hagen . . . 

Mr. von Hagen at the moment was neither lost nor missing. He 
was studying the ruins of Pukiita, trying to discover what that 
gold-mine village had looked like. 

There were twenty-five dwellings, ruins of what were probably 
miners* houses with typical stone mural niches set in the walls, a 
telltale characteristic of Inca architecture. There was a small plaza, 
and one or two rounded storehouses. There was nothing that would 
indicate that the chief activity had been gold mining, for gold had 
been taken from the rivers by the panning process or by means of a 
series of stone riffles laid across the river. Gold in the Carabaya was 
found in nuggets and, carried down in high water, was deposited in 


Into the Carabaya Country 

these riffles and later collected in the season of low water. The gold 
was then taken to wind-furnaces built on the tops of the highest 
hills. These furnaces built so as to catch the persistent winds blow- 
ing from the Amazon and called buayras, were circular in shape 
with the tunnel or mouth of the oven facing the windward side, so 
that the strong winds produced sufficient draft to obtain the high 
temperatures from the charcoal fires necessary to melt the gold, 
which was then shaped into crude bars. These were carried to Cuzco 
to the Lord Inca. 

There were, it seemed, many other gold villages along the road. 
By careful questioning of the Indians and our recording of the in- 
formation so obtained on our map of Carabaya, we discovered that 
there existed a whole system of roads which throughout the region 
connected the isolated villages that lay between the Andes and the 
montana. To the southeast the road went on to Coasa, to Usicayos, 
to Limbani, and to Sandia, an important village lying low in the 
montana at 7500 feet altitude, to terminate at Tambopata. How 
we longed to pursue these roads into the jungle ! Still . . . 

Once back at headquarters, leaving Silvia at the house of the 
patron Don Luis to rest and then to prepare for our continuing trip, 
I rode out fifteen miles through the great herds of shaggy white al- 
pacas which were being shepherded on the grass-covered puna, 
over the bare frozen hills to the base of Allincapac Mountain. If 
one could forget the cold, the land had a raw charm and a terrify- 
ing beauty. The golden turf ran along unbroken except for out- 
crops of rock and a peculiarly shaped cactus which in bloom had 
a canary-yellow blossom later replaced with a grayish beard. Here 
I found the "condor expedition." In a makeshift blind, Lawrence, 
blue with cold, sat with camera "at ready," while Charles huddled 
in his sleeping bag. In front of them in a small hollow of land was 


Highway of the Sun 

the bait. A dead horse, bloated with the juices of organic dissolu- 
tion, lay on the trap. Below and unseen, lying on thick branches 
in a trench cut under the dead animal, two Indians waited for the 
condor to light on the trap. They would then seize the bird by its 
legs, thus enabling other Indians now hidden behind a large rock 
to run out and lasso it. As I neared the blind, Charles frantically 
waved me off my horse. On the flat of my stomach, I wriggled for- 
ward to gain the blind's protection. 

"What a bore!" Charles had plainly had enough. "These birds 
have done nothing but sweep down and up. There's one now 
sitting on that crag right under the snow line." 

And there was the great bird, its white ruff around his neck as 
unsullied as Cyrano de Bergerac's white plume, its beak, curved 
and strong, cruelly sharp. 

"We almost had one," Charles went on. "They came down to 
have a sniff at our bait; but one of our Indians was so drunk that 
he stuck his hand out too soon it's a wonder he did not lose it 
and, of course, they all took off. They are terrible cowards, those 
condors. Now we have to wait until their suspicions are quieted. 
What happened to you?" 

I told them. 

"What a trip," he said wistfully. "I wish I had elected to go along 
on that one instead of this . . ." 

Dick Lawrence sat motionless, waiting hopefully to get a tele- 
scopic shot of the condor the moment it leaped off into space and 
began its glide. 

I told them of a change in plans. We had decided to work our 
way back to the Royal Road and follow it on north to Cuzco, 
about one hundred and fifty miles away. They could, if they chose, 
follow us at their leisure, so long as they arrived by the time of the 
Inti-raymi, the great Sun Festival. In Cuzco we hoped to find living 

Into the Carabaya Country 

quarters for the Expedition, and there we would work out a further 
program of work. We said our good-bys and I wiggled out again 
and over the rocks to where my horse waited. 

It was snowing as Silvia and I made our way down the "verie 
riche river of Carabaya" on our way toward Cuzco. 

Once we had made the high pass at La Raya, we were out of the 
Lake Titicaca region and almost at once had dropped down into 
the warmer valley of Vilcanota, where the air was almost benign. 
We could well understand how the people who became the Incas 
abandoned their origin place around Titicaca to seek out the 
warmer climate of this valley. 

For some days we followed the Inca road through pleasant vil- 
lages not much changed since the time when their Inca ruled the 
land, through the lava fields of San Pedro de Cacha, until we came 
to the great temple of Kontiki Virachoca. The temple was now in 
ruins but even so the fragments of high stone and adobe walls and 
rounded stone pillars spoke of the great architectural genius of the 
Inca. As we drove, the road was at times clearly revealed and then 
at other times so thoroughly erased that we could find no trace of 
it. At Chuqui-cahuana, for example, we found a length of well- 
preserved road, part of the Royal Road, measuring fifteen feet 
from wall to wall. On we went northward through hills now pur- 
ple with the blossom of the potato, past the Lake Urcos which lay 
like an emerald at the bottom of cultivated hills. 

Not far from this we came to ancient stone quarries at the gates, 
so to speak, of Cuzco. Here was an enormous passageway, with 
one of its sides faced with carefully fitted red stone, the mark of 
the Inca stonemason. It was once, so we believed, a control station 
or sort of toll gate, and the entrance to the road from the south 


Highway of the Sun 

which led through a large pre-Inca city into the immediate valley 
of Cuzco. From here northward this old Inca road more or less be- 
comes a modern road. 

On our way along this, which was once the Appian Way of the 
Incas, we passed multitudes of people in holiday attire, many of 
them driving gaily decorated llamas ahead of them, all going to- 
ward the Sacred City. Many wore their distinctive regional head- 
gear the women of Ayaviri their large flat hats trimmed with 
beautiful upending brocade; those from Sicuani woolen wimples 
which encased the head nunlike and fell across the shoulders. 
Groups of Indians trotted along hugging musical instruments, as 
if they would protect them from the dust of the fast-traveling cars. 
Some carried harps shaped like ancient rebecs, which they stroked 
as they walked; others had reed pipes on which they softly fluted. 

The crowd increased as it converged on Cuzco. We made our 
way down the road and entered the square called Rimac-Pampa. 
This, once the exit place of the great road to the south, was the 
Speaking Pampa where the people gathered to listen to the ha- 
rangues of the Inca's officials. It was still the gathering place, 
crowded now with auto buses and jostling people, noisy with the 
sound of raucous radios and loud-speakers. 

We had arrived over the Royal Road at Cuzco, the capital of 
the Incas. 


V I 
Cuzco the Four Quarters of the World 

HERNANDO DE SOTO, so the chronicler said, came first upon Cuzco 
at sunset. 

The sun's great rundle sinking with an enormous burst of red- 
dened glory lighted up the city so that even the poorer buildings 
took on a burnished golden look. As the retreating sun's rays 
touched the beaten gold plates that adorned its walls, the pyra- 
mided Sun Temple, towering over the lower buildings around it, 
gleamed as if it were cased in metal. 

Cuzco lay in a protected hollow at the northern end of the valley. 
The hills were bare of sward; no trees except the stunted molle 
grew here. On the northern higher slope of the city stood an enor- 
mous stone fortress, a structure so immense that at first sight 
de Soto and his companion doubted that any army could breach it. 
Narrow and long "like a puma's tail," Cuzco was made up of nar- 
row streets, its smaller buildings painted yellow and red, the larger 
buildings constructed of enormous, beautifully laid stonework. In 
the center was a great square, larger than the Plaza of Saint Mark's 
in Venice, which, because of the luminous atmosphere, seemed so 
near that a bolt from a crossbow could have been shot into the 

Captain Hernando de Soto, from his position on the hill of 
Karmenka, had good reason to study Cuzco intently. For he, along 


Highway of the Sun 

with two hundred Spaniards in this fateful year of 1533, was en- 
gaged in the conquest of an empire five times the size of Europe. 
De Soto was, according to his chronicler, et a handsome man, dark in 
complexion, with full beard and dark restless eyes, of cheerful 
countenance, an endurer of hardships and very valiant." At thirty- 
five, he was still a considerable distance, in time and space, from his 
watery grave in the turgid waters at Guachoya on the Mississippi 
River. At this moment, as a conquistador of Peru, de Soto was in 
the full tide of his glory. Rather above middle height, graceful on 
foot and horseback, he rode in the Moorish style and looked well 
accoutered in buckler and helmet with a straight sword by his side. 
Now after his four-hundred-and-fifty-mile ride over the Royal 
Road from Cajamarca to the south where the Inca King was being 
held for ransom by two hundred Spaniards, de Soto looked down 
on Cuzco in intent contemplation. He had consented to be escorted 
to the capital of the Incas by a retinue of Indians with only one 
other soldier companion, Pedro de Barco, in order to speed the pay- 
ment of the gold and silver ransom and to make sure of the cap- 
tured Inca's promise "that he would fill an immense room, once 
with gold, twice with silver" so as to free himself from his Spanish 
captors. Knowledge was needed, too, of the size of this strange king- 
dom, of its roads and its defenses, for the Spaniards had come not 
only to siphon off a winnowing of Inca gold but to make conquest 
of the source of all of it. 

Earlier three common soldiers had been sent to Cuzco for the 
purpose of spying out the secrets of the Incas, but they had grown 
so overbearing what with being carried about in gold-encrusted 
litters and their reception in Cuzco as gods, that the native officials, 
hurriedly getting together six hundred llama-loads of gold and 
silver, quickly ended their excuse for being in Cuzco at all. So that 
mission ended without their obtaining vital information. Next, 
Francisco Pizarro, the Spaniard's Captain General, chose the hi- 


Cuzco the Fovir Quarters of the World 

dalgo de Soto, tc a gentleman on all four sides who was neither Jew 
nor Moor and who had the purity of blood required to enter the 
order of the Knights of Santiago." So little did de Soto possess of 
worldly goods that when he landed in Yucatan in 1519, he had 
only his sword and his buckler. With these, for the next ten years 
or so he fought his way throughout Central America and in 1532 
he was in Nicaragua nursing wounds when the clarion call came 
from the Pizarros, who sorely needed men to help in this conquest 
of Peru. With the rank of Captain, Hernando de Soto arrived in 
Peru in May, 1532. 

Hernando de Soto's first sight of Cuzco filled him with amaze- 

Cuzco, grand and stately, must have been built by people of 
great intelligence. The city is certainly the richest of which we 
have any knowledge in all the Indies . . . Neither gold nor sil- 
ver, they tell me, can be taken out of here on the pain of death 
and there are many goldsmiths here and workers in silver. 

De Soto was received as a god. Carried through the city in a gold- 
plated litter and followed always by a curious throng of women and 
children, he saw the storehouses for wool tunics and cotton cloth, 
strange chambers filled with arms and accouterments of war such 
as quilted-cotton armour, sharp-edged swords, star-shaped hal-\ 
jberds, while still more rooms were filled with corn and shellfish and 
seaweed all in the form of tax tribute. He was careful to note, 
for he was primarily an officer making an "estimate of the situa- 
tion," the fact that out of the great square went "four roads which 
led to all parts of the empire." 

Actually these were the principal highways to the four divisions, 
the suyus, of the empire: the Chinchay-suyu road over which de 


Highway of the Sun 

Soto had arrived, went northwest to Quito 500 leagues distant; 
the Cuntu-suyu road to the coast, stretched off to the southwest; 
the Colla-suyu which, "so the Indians sayeth," went to a great lake, 
began at the southeast corner; while the road to the jungles began 
from the northwest, at a small plaza called the "Salt Window," and 
was called the Anti-suyu road. The sum of these four divisions, the 
Inca Empire, was known as the Tawantin-suyu, the "Four Quar- 
ters of the World." 

The people, so de Soto learned, had originated as wanderers and 
food gatherers around Lake Titicaca. Eventually they migrated 
northward. By the year 1000 since "blood and cruelty is the 
foundation of all good things" they had disposed of the original 
inhabitants of this valley and taken possession of the treeless glebe 
about Cuzco. Their food, their llama husbandry, their architecture, 
their ceramics, were Andean in pattern. Yet as these people were 
exposed to dearth and hunger and seasonal droughts, they began to 
oppose the titanic force of Nature and to attempt to alter it for 
their benefit. 

The centuries passed like the moving arm of a weaver's shuttle. 
The Incas made repeated conquests and organized the defeated. 
They developed the formulae that made an Andean empire possi- 
ble. They became a disciplined people and, within the frame of 
their mountain glebe, they became a unified empire. It expanded at 
the expense of its neighbors, absorbing the surrounding lands like 
an amoeba. It enveloped them, digested them and made them part 
of itself. What the Incas could not absorb, they killed. About 1200 
A.D., the chieftains of the Quechua-speaking peoples announced 
their official descent from the Sun God. They called themselves 
"Incas," and as such became the hereditary rulers of the Quechuas. 

Under the aggressively active Inca policy of conquest and assim- 
ilation, the Inca realm expanded in all the four directions. Roads 
were built and a chasqui courier system was organized. A caste of 

Higbivay of the Sun 

record-keepers, trained so that they could read the story of the past, 
invented the qnipn a series of colored and knotted strings by 
means of which records could be kept of grazing lands, gold mines, 
numbers of people and tribes, tributes and deposits. 

Having grown great, the Incas had come to believe that it must 
have always been thus, and therefore what did not conform to the 
established idea of the Inca past was eliminated from human mem- 
ory an d so we ll that the impression left was that before the Inca 
there had hovered a void over the Andes. 

The Incas ruled their people with an iron but a just hand. Every 
detail of their life, from womb to tomb, was prescribed. The state 
was not for the people nor was equality the ideal. It was rather a 
blending of tribal communism and theocracy, a perilously balanced 
fusion of two antagonistic systems. 

The common people were manipulated like figures on a chess- 
board. They became part of the decimal system of classification 
with division all along the social line. An elaborate hierarchy of 
territorial officials was set up. The highest under the Inca was the 
Tuc-ri-cuo (He -who -sees -all) , the ruler of a division of 10,000 
people. And so the categories went down the line to the least com- 
mon multiple; for every 10,000 in population there were 1331 of- 

Everything was regulated in this welfare state. No one moved on 
the roads without permission; there was work-service for taxes; 
there were contributions to state and religion; and each man was 
automatically a member of an agrarian militia. If a section of the 
realm was underpopulated, a whole trite was moved into it. Loyal 
subjects were settled in a newly conquered land, while the recently 
conquered tribes were moved out and transferred to a "safe" com- 
munity where they could be absorbed. Under this policy, most of 
Andean America was conquered. From Chile to Colombia, a dis- 
tance of 2320 linear miles, the land was unified, the jungle was in- 


Cuzco the Four Quarters of the World 

vaded, the desert coast pervaded. No tribe, no force, could resist 
the pressure of this benevolent despotism. 

Of this realm Cuzco was the capital. Thoroughly cosmopolitan, 
the city was inhabited by symbolic groups from the four divisions 
of empire. Each section of the city was given over to a particular 
tribal group, each with its own attire, own headdress. If they were 
yuncas of the coast, they went muffled like gypsies; the collas 
(koyas) wore caps shaped like a wooden pump-box; the canas wore 
another kind of cap of greater width; the canaris had crowns of in- 
terwoven thick lathes; the hunancas had short ropes attached to 
their hair which hung down to the chin. Cuzco was the microcosm 
of its empire. 

There was only one way by which this community of people 
could have been held together and that was by the communicating 
roads. All Indians were obliged to give one third of their time to 
work service. While each tribal unit must build and maintain the 
Royal Road running through its section, the direction and master 
plan were laid down by technicians sent out from Cuzco. These mas- 
ter architects charted the direction the roads would take, planned 
the way-stops and figured out the distances that the cbasqui couriers 
would run and where their platforms would be set up. With these 
communications completed, nothing could occur in any place in the 
realm without the officials at Cuzco being made immediately aware 
of it. 

All this and much more did Hernando de Soto see and learn dur- 
ing his stay in Cuzco. The summer of the dry season had come be- 
fore de Soto quit the city. In that time he gathered much gold, 
wrote his report, and prepared to move out. Cuzco was now gay 
with arriving Indians, for it was the time of the Sun Festival, the 
Inti-raymi, celebrating the time when, as the Indians believed, the 
Sun God came down to live with them. From all sides Indians were 
pouring into the city to prepare for the pageantry of the Sun God. 


Highway of the Sun 

What thoughts must Hernando de Soto have had when he turned 
on the hill of Karmenka and looked back on Cuzco! He was the last 
European to see it in its pagan state. Soon he was to gather his 
300,000 golden pesos of loot, sail to Spain and eventually return to 
chase the twin phantoms, Youth and Gold and lose both along 
with his life in the turgid waters of the Mississippi. 

But on that bright June twenty-first, 1533, as this man of "good 
impulses" rode beside his treasure-laden llamas along the high road 
to Cajamarca, he moved out from this golden city through throngs 
of Indians coming to Cuzco for the festival of the Sun God. 

Four hundred and twenty-one years to the day that Hernando 
de Soto quit it, we, searching for the remains of those roads of an 
empire which he so effectively had helped to destroy, arrived in 

The oldest continuously inhabited city in all the Americas it 
dates back to about the time that the Battle of Hastings was fought 
Cuzco shows little traces of its various epochs. There are the Inca 
walls superbly fashioned of stone, laid with an instinctive feeling 
for the beauty of pattern in stone which impart a feeling of the 
greatest antiquity. There too is the magnificent architecture of Co- 
lonial Spain and in close proximity adobe houses which are without 
either dignity or grandeur. Between these contrasts are no evidences 
of growth. Cuzco is like a woman who when born is already old. 

Hernando de Soto would have found little in this present-day ob- 
servance of the Sun Festival to remind him of the city he saw before 
its rape, even though much of modern Cuzco is built upon the walls 
and foundations of the Incaic city. What had once been the Curi- 
cancha, the Shrine of the Garden of Gold, a structure whose walls 
were covered with gold as finely beaten as onionskin paper, is now 
the Santo Domingo Convent. The sanctuary of the Sun Virgins, 


Cuzco the Four Quarters of the World 

where chosen women were reared to care for the ritual of the Sun, 
is, ironically enough, the cloistered nunnery of Santa Catalina; and 
standing on the site of the Snake Temple, the palace of the last great 
Inca, is the Church of the Jesuits. Time, man and earthquake have 
not been kind to Cuzco. Yet the Sun Festival was once again bring- 
ing the Indians back into their city, and the streets were enlivened 
by their gauds. 

With difficulty we eased our truck through the press of the 
crowd to the hotel. The Railroad Hotel, so called because it was 
over the station and therefore in the rail yards, was the best stop- 
ping place for us that the city offered because, since it lay out of 
the city, it gave us parking space for our trucks, which would soon 
be piling in from the Car ab ay a. So, in a dubious bedroom made less 
dubious by a bath which offered a plentiful supply of hot water to 
wash off the dust of three hundred miles of Inca road, we relaxed 
with an enlivening aperitif. 

Cuzco was, naturally, an important point for us. The four roads 
of the empire had gone off from the center of the city in the four 
directions, and around it were the remains of its most imposing 
structures. In order to make our study we would have to have a 
base of operations. It would have been ideal if we could have rented, 
as we did in Puno, some small place outside of the city, but the 
earthquake of 1949 had leveled much of this area. I remembered, 
then, that during a previous visit to Cuzco I had seen a place just 
outside the city which was once an Inca palace. As we made the nec- 
essary courtesy calls, it might be well to include the owner of the 

After we had called upon the Prefect and had been offered and 
received the city, we sought out the owner of the house I had re- 
membered. "We found him in his offices in the richest commercial es- 
tablishment in Cuzco. The son of the founder of the firm, one who 

Highway of the Sun 

had generously aided other explorers, he readily granted us the 
loan of his house during our stay in Cuzco. And so, when the long 
noonday quiet settled on the city, we made our way up to his 

In Inca times Cuzco was divided into Upper and Lower. To get 
to Hanan, or upper Cuzco where Kolkam-pata is, you must climb 
the narrow streets between Inca walls, past colonial doorways 
marked with the armorial escutcheon of somebody now forgotten, 
past courtyards of squalor, and on up to the Plaza and Church of 
San Cristobal. The city at this point lies below. We went along walls 
spaced with Inca mural niches until we came to an enormous iron 
gate and there rang the bell. Through the trees we could see the 
lower bastions of the great fortress of Sacsa-huaman. In front of us 
lay a chalet of uncertain age and alongside of it was a fragment of 
a door and wall done in the late Inca style. The best of Inca stone- 
work, its roughly square stones were skillfully keyed and put to- 
gether without cement with a precision never equaled elsewhere. A 
single truncated door led nowhere that and a fourteen- foot wall 
were all that was left of what was once one of the finest structures 
in Cuzco. Yet here was the same beauty with which Greek ruins 
pridefully conjure up for the beholder some image of what they 
must once have been. 

Kolkam-pata had a special significance for us, since it had been 
the residence of the last of the direct descendants of the one-time 
all-powerful Inca. Paulla-Inca had been a willing collaborator of 
the Spanish conquerors. Adopting the name Cristobal, he had built 
the church which bears his name and had lived his last years there. 
Now, searching for the lost horizons of the empire he, also, had had 
a part in destroying, we were to live in the ruins of his palace. 

The other two members of the Expedition had arrived and were 
already installed at the Railroad Hotel when we returned. They 


Cuzco the Four Quarters of the World 

were a sorry pair. Dick Lawrence was worn and silent for once 
all energy was drained from his slight figure. Charles too looked 
pinched and drawn. To our inquiries as to the success of their ven- 
ture, Charles sighed. 

"Well," he said wearily, "in the beginning . . ." 

They had waited days for the condors to return. Each time one 
of the Indians had revealed their presence in the trap, the great 
carrion birds took off. Food that I had arranged to be sent to them 
had not been sent; the Indians drank all the brandy; the cold had 
been intense. Altogether it was an epic of disorganization. 

"The condors came down often, but as the dead horse was lying 
in a veritable refrigerator at 15,600 feet, the flesh did not decom- 
pose. Until . . . Yes, until," said Charles bitterly, "the third day 
our last day. We were downwind and we had it all stench like 
the perfume of battlefield dead. The condors came down, pulled a 
piece of flesh off the horse, danced about it, nodded to each other as 
if they were saying 'After you, my dear carrion -pigeon.' Had our 
Indians been less drunk, they could have seized them and we would 
have had our pictures. Instead of which" he stopped to take a 
long drink "instead of which it began to snow and snow and 
snow. Within an hour we were snowbound, not able to see two 
yards in front of us. We had had enough . . . and so here we are, 
sans pictures, sans condor . . ." But they had been given a whole 
lamb as a gift and it was at this moment sizzling in the hotel's 

And at this point a new Expedition member arrived at the 

Henrik Blohm, tall and blond, a Harvard undergraduate, had 
been born in Venezuela of a German family. He was studying to be 
a zoologist and so had jumped at the chance to come along on the 
Expedition as a volunteer for the three months of his vacation. In 
all the excitement we almost forgot the whole lamb roasting in the 


Highway of the Sun 

oven. But soon we were all talking, eating, shouting like a group of 
uninhibited undergraduates. 

The Inca Sun-God Inti was kind. The sun shone bright next 
morning on the beginning of the Sun Festival and with it came still 
more people. First came the opening parade of the various Indian 
groups. It moved around the plaza passing in front of the Cathe- 
dral, displaying a variety of costumes and music. There were Indi- 
ans from the jungles; Indians from Titicaca; there were folklore 
groups dancing with masks, mimicking something long forgotten 
in history; there were Indians from Pisac with upturned felt hats. 
All in noisy competition marched to music which was, at best, a 
chaos of sound. Occasionally one group would hold up the march 
by breaking into a dance. 

This festival is only one of many ancient ones. There had been 
cults of the Moon and of the Stars, each month with its appropri- 
ate deity and its appropriate festival. There was the Song of the 
Harvest, with the dances of the small ripening, the great ripening, 
and of the young maize; the Festival of Water to welcome the com- 
ing of rain. But of all these, the most mystical was that of the Sun, 
Inti-raymi, for during that period the Indians believed the Sun God 
briefly came down and stayed among them. 

As the parade continued, the riot of color became overwhelming. 
Indians in flaming red and pink ponchos danced with abandonment, 
like children, out of rhythm yet with lively unrepressed artless gai- 
ety. At last they disappeared through the inclined streets which led 
to the main festival- ground at the Sacsa-huaman fortress. As I 
watched them go, dancing and playing their simple instruments, I 
thought of a passage I had once read in which an essayist writing of 
natural man said: <c Oh, let these last sons of nature die out in their 
mother's lap, do not interrupt with your master's dogmas their 
childish games, their moonlight dances, their sweet and ephemeral 
natures. . . /' 


Cuzco the Four Quarters of the World 

Fortunately we were swept along with the stress of humanity 
that poured through the city. Only a few steps down the fortress 
hill and we were safely inside our retreat. 

We began our further journey with the northern route, that same 
Chinchay-suyu road which de Soto had taken when he quit Cuzco 
and followed his loot-laden llamas. 

Here the Inca road is still made daily use of by Indians arriving 
with their llamas. At the top of the hill at Karmenka, there once 
stood Huaca-puncu, the "Holy Gate," the first shrine an In- 
dian found on his journey northward. "One made sacrifices here," 
wrote Cieza, ct so that the Inca road would not collapse or be 
destroyed." "We found beautifully cut stones taken from this 
shrine embedded in the Church of Santa Ana which now occupies 
the former site of this sacred place that once guarded the Royal 

We leisurely followed the road northward. Tracing its course was 
a little like putting an anagram together. Located on the west side 
of the narrow valley, the old road crossed the modern highway at 
times and lost its identity. Then, where the highway curved to 
make a gradient, the Inca road would emerge again and could be 
followed, measured and studied, until it entered the environs of a 
village, where it would again disappear. So with varying success 
we followed it until we came to the swamps. 

Fifteen miles north of Cuzco lies a wide-spreading quagmire. The 
Incas in the fourteenth century built a long causeway across this, 
which still is used. More than a meter above the flooded lowland 
plains, twenty- four feet wide and eight miles long, it was one of the 
triumphs of Inca engineering. Traversed by all who entered or 
came from Cuzco, it has, through the centuries, often been de- 
scribed: "a great swamp which could only be crossed with difficulty, 


Highway of the Sun 

had the Inca not built a wide paved causeway . . . with walls on 
both sides so firm that they will last a long time." 

At the northern end of all this, we came to Zurite. Here on the 
sides of the mountain were the long parallel walls of agricultural 
terraces ascending the sides of the Andes like a gigantic flight of 
steps, and here we looked for Xaqui-Xahuana, the lost city of 
which all the conquistadores spoke, that place which one of the 
Inca Kings, referring to his flight from the penetrating cold of 
Cuzco, had called "my refuge." 

The village of Zurite dated only from 1570, the site having been 
given to one of the Spanish conquerors as his fief, and he had, as 
was then the practice, torn down the ancient buildings and utilized 
the stone. The modern market, used now by the Indians who still, 
in ancient dress, come down from the hills, was located in front of 
a large rnoldering church. Since we could see that the church was 
constructed of the ancient stonework, we begged its sacristan to 
open the place for us. As he fumbled with the enormous lock, we 
were surrounded by hordes of boys shouting for the Peruvian equiv- 
alent of baksheesh. Once inside the church, the light from our 
torches revealed crumbling mud walls hung with huge canvases 
of paintings which had come from the eighteenth-century In- 
dian ateliers of Cuzco and were in marked contrast to the molder- 
ing walls broken by Nature's tremors and man's neglect. Nothing 
here gave us a clue to the ancient city we sought until we reached 
the richly wrought altar of chased silver fashioned in eighteenth- 
century baroque style. The date was 1770. Hanging here among the 
silver flowers and cherubs we found a likeness of the donor, El 
Cacique D. Juan Quayna Sucnu, attired in flowing cape^ knee 
breeches and silver-buckled shoes. At one side was his younger son 
wearing the long surcoat of the period. Facing him on the other 
side was his wife at prayer. Behind her stood another son. The leg- 
end above this read: DONA ISABEL ESTRADA CON su HIJO ANDRES 


Cuzco the Four Quarters of the World 

GUANA-SUCNU. The Quayna-Sucnu family, according to the sac- 
ristan, had been owners of the Zurite valley but time and here 
he spread out his crippled hands to suggest the cupidity of man 
had robbed them of it. Learning that their descendants still lived 
near by, we crossed his wrinkled palm with a piece of silver and 
following him out of the church and across fields planted in corn 
and wheat, we came to a small house of sun-baked adobe. Dogs held 
us in check until an old man appeared at the door. Shading his eyes 
from the bright sun, he begged our business in a quavering voice. 

Hearing it, he said, "You stand on it Xaqui-Xahuana" and, 
somewhat puzzled as to why foreigners should come to ask about 
that which time had entombed, he led us up a hill trail along which 
we saw those characteristic stone walls, always the first evidence of 
former Inca occupation. From the top we looked down, and there 
before us were the ruins of the "Lost City/ 5 built around a plaza 
where once large buildings fanned out to form a lunette. This for- 
mer pleasure resort of Inca nobles had been the last stop before the 
wayfarer on the Royal Road had crossed the Ant a swamps over the 
giant stone causeway on the way to Cuzco. "This valley, 3 ' our 
chroniclers had written, "once contained sumptuous buildings for 
recreation to which the lords and many people from Cuzco came 
for their diversion," and now we were looking at all that was left 
of these same "sumptuous buildings." While Silvia made a sketch 
map of the ruin, I found numerous pottery fragments, the finest 
we had seen in the Cuzco area. 

These plains had seen much history. Here, early in their existence 
as a nation, the Incas were brought to the edge of defeat by the 
Chincha Nation's tribe called the Chancas. Finally victorious, the 
Incas had their enemies* bodies skinned and stuffed in such lifelike 
attitudes "that the human form was made to appear in many posi- 
tions. Some of them," averred a Spaniard who saw them, "had stom- 


Highway of the Sun 

achs formed like drums on which they appeared to be playing; oth- 
ers were set up with flutes in their mouths." The Incas had built a 
houselike tomb in which these horrid battle trophies were kept. 
There they remained for two hundred years, or until the Spaniards 
entered Cuzco. 

Our old guide led us back to his house and there showed us some 
"ancient things," Inca fragments of stone and vases, hand-wrought 
nails, Spanish coins which dated from the times of Charles V, a 
beautifully etched silver partisan, a cruel-tipped lance and a sword 
handle, a rusty encrusted sword blade; and then, and most curious 
of all, a silver ornament with a unicorn's head crudely stenciled on 
it, which bore a bit of sixteenth-century Spanish doggerel, ending 
with: "And this belongs to Francisco de Carbajal . . ." 

Those who have read the Conquest of Peru will recall that witty 
cutthroat, Francisco de Carbajal, who, when close to eighty years of 
age, had come to Peru to become Gonzalo Pizarro's Captain Gen- 
eral during his bid for the empire of Peru. Our old man had found 
this memento while plowing the same battlefield on which, in 1 548, 
Carbajal had met his death. Never was Marius or any Roman gen- 
eral Carbajal's equal in cruelty, for "in every phase ... he 
showed himself a past master; the trees wherefrom he hung his vic- 
tims, from Quito to Potosi, bear witness to it," wrote Cieza. 

It was during the civil war which was fought all over the Andes 
from Potosi to Quito that Carbajal peopled the trees with the bod- 
ies of his enemies and so earned the sobriquet, "Demon of the An- 
des." At the end, Carbajal led his men out to Xaquixaguana to do 
battle with the King's. Before the battle was joined Carbajal's men 
began to desert, and before he himself could take to his heels, he was 
captured by his own troops, who hoped, with such a prize, to make 
their peace with the victors. He was roundly abused as he was 
taken back to the Viceroy's camp; the soldiers would have had his 
head had another not stayed their hands. 

Cuzco the Four Quarters of the World 

"To whom," said Carbajal in haughty jest, "am I indebted for 
this protection?" 

"Do you not know me?" asked his would-be protector. "You have 
pursued me for five thousand leagues through the Andes all these 

"I crave your pardon," retorted Carbajal. "It is so long since I 
have seen anything but your fleeting ass that I have fully forgotten 
your face." On his eighty-fourth birthday Carbajal was led out to 
be beheaded. His executioner, a tailor, had been instructed to quar- 
ter his body. "Treat me, dear little brother," Carbajal said, "as one 
tailor would do the other." 

Shortly the four pieces of the body that had been Carbajal were 
hung in chains at the four entrances of the Royal Roads into Cuzco. 


V I I 
Somewhere, Lost Vilcabamba 

C/UR SEARCH for the ancient road which led to the Anti-suyu sec- 
tion, the eastern part of the Inca Empire, began in the ruins of Pi- 
sac. The Incas, as I have stressed, called each of their four great 
roads after the region or suyu that it traversed. The * e Anti" quarter 
was a vast and variegated section of their world which included the 
limitless jungle and the high forested mountains east of Cuzco. I 
had one day walked along that east road out of Cuzco beginning at 
that part of the city once known as the "Salt Window," and to my 
delight found, in talking to some of the natives living in the shadow 
of San Bias church, that they had actual knowledge of the road and 
that the one still used by the natives coming from the valley to the 
east was in fact the ancient one. With an elderly man as my guide, 
I followed a llama caravan out over the stone-laid highway. The 
road, beaten hollow by llama treads, led over the hills above Cuzco, 
passed through many little villages and made its way toward Pisac. 
By the time I returned a few days later from my trek, I had mapped 
out the program for our first assault on one of the "directions" of 
the Empire. We were to go in full force and would begin with the 
eastern route. For here, somewhere along these little-known roads, 
lay the lost fortress of Vilcabamba. 

The valley of the Vilcanota is a delight. The vehicular dirt high- 
way circles down from the high hills into a warm fertile area where 

Somewhere, Lost Vilcabamba 

the river is still held to an even course by stone embankments raised 
centuries ago. The greensward of the planted valley lies between a 
double array of mountains which rise to such heights that they are 
snow-draped the year around. The village of Pisac lies on the east 
bank of the river under the shadow of the ruin-studded mountain 
of the same name. Agricultural terraces, hung on the edge of cliffs, 
rise to a thousand feet high over the valley. From its situation it 
seemed apparent that Pisac 's ancient fortress must have guarded the 
valley that led to the jungles perched atop of the oval-shaped moun- 
tain. Moreover its size is an indication of its importance in the Inca 
realm. It is five times larger in extent than any other ruin in Peru 
and is an amazing complex of forts, tunnels, walls, roads, agricul- 
tural terraces. 

We left our vehicles in the little village, put our gear upon the 
backs of sturdy-legged Indians hired for the purpose and then in 
force started up the mountain. In the hot sun we climbed up ter- 
races like a gigantic flight of steps which, following the contours of 
the precipices, led us on to the heights through long parallel walls 
of undressed stone. Had these been determinedly held by the de- 
fenders, a few Indians well placed here might well have stayed a 
whole army. 

That Pisac had been built as a sanctuary for the inhabitants of 
the valley was substantiated by the evidences of its many terraces 
once planted with potatoes, corn, peppers, quinua, in ample supply 
to sustain the besieged. On the crest of the hill, crowning the sum- 
mit of the pucara and approached by a magnificent flight of steps 
and stone road, is a gigantic gnomon carved out of the living rock. 
It is or better, was "shaped something like a dial. In its center 
was a projection designed to throw a shadow on the rounded red- 
dish-gray rock. This was Inti-huatana, or Hitching-Place-of-the- 
Sun. Roughly circular, eighteen feet in diameter, the living rock 
was further cut out to hold the fitted stones which had been used 


Highway of the Sun 

in the sanctuary. The entrance to it was through a single stone door 
and encircling the sacred rock curved marvelously wrought walls 
of stones fitted in perfect succession. The whole site was actually 
an outcropping of granite into which the Inca masons anchored 
the base of the fortress itself, a fine example of that principle of 
which Frank Lloyd Wright says: "It is the nature of an organic 
building to grow from its site, come out of the ground into the 


We stayed here a week, sleeping among the ruins at night and in 
the day tracing out the patterns of the roads. We found the main 
road that led through the valley, and we took time to study the en- 
gineering methods used in tunneling through the living rock. For 
a detailed inspection of the three-mile long escarpment, crowded 
with the remains of redoubts, fortresses, control gateways and 
hanging gardens, we could with advantage have lengthened our 
stay into months. 

As it was we went on down into the Urubamba valley, the 
"Plain of the Spider," following the traces of our Anti road. This 
again was a warm and gentle valley, almost desert in its summer 
heat, brilliant with the Scotch broom's yellow flowers, filling the 
air with a penetrating mimos alike perfume. Two thousand feet 
lower than Cuzco, the valley is framed by abruptly rising rock 
walls which climb until they become glaciers sixteen thousand feet 
high, eternally crowned in snow. Here the eye travels from snowy 
heights through every color gradation, through every clime from 
glacier to pnna, from puna to bare rock, and on down the various 
climatic grades to the gentle flower-filled valley. 

At Yucay we came to a spot which was little more than a mass 
of ruined terraces, Inca works which time and man with equal vigor 
have destroyed. Alongside the road were rows of adobe houses, 
built one on top of another in tenement style. The rude-limbed 
cbolos who frequent this gentle land had only the poorest mar- 


Somewhere, Lost Vilcabamba 

kets and were afflicted with all sorts of rheums. It seemed 
hardly possible that so beautiful a valley could have suffered such 

From the plaza we were directed to the edge of the green where 
stood a two-storied house of sun-dried brick which would have been 
without distinction had it not been for its beautiful stone door of 
Inca architecture. As we sat down in front of it to eat our luncheon, 
I remembered that it was here in 1548 that one of the last Incas 
was poisoned by one of his own clan because it was feared that he 
might reveal to the Spaniards the whereabouts of Vilcabamba, the 
legendary city hidden somewhere in the vast emptiness of moun- 
tains close by. One of the primary reasons for our presence here was 
to locate if we could the skein of roads which would lead, so our 
pre-Expedition research had indicated, to this mysterious sanctu- 
ary. At this point we could do no more than follow the advice the 
King of Hearts gave Alice: "Begin at the beginning, go until you 
come to the end, and then stop." 

In 1535, save for unorganized resistance, the whole of the Inca 
Empire had fallen to the Spaniards. It was then that Francisco Pi- 
zarro decided to select a puppet Inca and so rule the defeated realm 
through him. For this purpose he chose a young noble, a direct de- 
scendant of the last great Inca, who called himself Manco Capac II. 
For some time there were no active signs of Indian resistance. The 
people, stunned by the suddenness of events, had not yet been able 
to comprehend the disaster that had befallen the empire. Then came 
the uprooting: Indians were marched off as dray animals to carry 
the impedimenta of conquest; the Spaniards took over the commu- 
nal lands, sending the men in droves to the mines; women were 
taken from their homes and from the Sun Temples. The conquer- 
ors were setting off in all directions with the captive Indians as 


Highway of the Sun 

cargo-bearers, to explore more lands. One army under the com- 
mand of Almagro the Blinkard set off for far-distant Chile taking 
many of the able-bodied troops with him; others went into the for- 
ests to the east leaving Guzco ill-defended. It was then that the 
young Inca by a clever ruse eluded the watch set on him and dis- 

On the morning of April 10, 1536, four huge and well-disci- 
plined native armies converged on Cuzco from the four directions. 
Within a day, the city was sealed off and put under tight siege. The 
Indians had learned quickly. They dug pits with sharpened stakes 
to prevent the Spaniards' use of their cavalry, they burned the 
houses on the outskirts and slowly forced the Spaniards and their 
Indian mercenaries into the center of the city. By the seventh day, 
the position of the Spaniards looked hopeless. There remained only 
one hundred and thirty-six of them alive, many of whom were 
wounded. There were fifty horses left and two thousand Cafiari In- 
dians. The revolt was general even Lima on the coast was be- 

The siege of Cuzco went on month upon month. Manco Capac 
forced captured Spaniards into making powder for his forces; the 
Indians learned to fire guns; they captured horses; they made re- 
peated mass attacks. Then the Spaniards found a fatal flaw in the 
Indians* war-techniques: the great attacks were launched only at 
the appearance of the new moon or once every twenty days. After 
that the attacks ceased and the Spaniards could move with im- 
punity. Also the Indian warriors were actually little more than an 
agrarian militia, farmers who must constantly disband to plant and 
to harvest. So the Spanish horse made occasional forays out of 
Cuzco, burning the crops, killing off the women who were essential 
as food preparers. Those Indians caught in battle had their hands 
cut off. It was a devastating strategy and suddenly, on the morning 
of the sixteenth of February, 1537, the sixteen-month-old siege was 

I O2 

Somewhere, Lost Vilcabamba 

lifted and the besiegers melted away. Manco Capac was now in 
flight. Many of the Indian nobles fled with him. A holding 
action was fought at Ollantay-tambo, a great fortress down the 
Urubamba River, but in spite of it the Spaniards broke the resist- 
ance, capturing many of the nobles including the Inca's small son. 
Yet the main prize, the Inca King with thousands of his followers 
and large herds of llamas loaded with ancestral mummies and gold 
the whole variegated paraphernalia of empire slipped away to 
take refuge in the fortress-city of distant Vilcabamba. 

No matter how desperately they tried in the years that followed, 
the Spaniards never located precisely the whereabouts of this sanc- 

The cordillera of Vilcabamba is the culminating range of the 
eastern Andes. Many snow-covered peaks rise out of this massif 
which is dominated by the twenty-thousand-foot-high Salcantay, 
the cc Savage Mountain/* the mightiest of all the great peaks that 
jut out of the range lying almost in the geological shadow of the 
western border of the Amazon. 

The whole area is marked by towering mountains, by plains and 
cascading streams heading for the Amazon. Precipitous cliffs of 
granite and limestone mark a land noted for its uninhabitableness. 
To the northwest are high plateaus lying between the Apurimac 
River and the jungle-bound Pampaconas River, high areas where 
corn and potatoes can be grown and where there is forage for 
llamas. At the edge of the Amazon were the friendly jungle-allies, 
bringing forest products to balance, as it were, the things of the 
heights. And here, not more than three days' distant by secret ways 
from Cuzco, was Vilcabamba where Manco Capac set up his neo- 
Inca state which was to endure for fifty years. 

The raids began in 1537. Spaniards on the King's business were 
waylaid, their cargo stolen; those captured were carried alive into 


Highway of the Snn 

the fastnesses and put to work for the Inca. These included a bar- 
ber-surgeon, a powdermaker, a blacksmith, all of whom were forced 
to turn out war material for the Inca's growing army. The attacks 
increased with such intensity that Francisco Pizarro, now a Mar- 
quis and Captain General, was eventually forced to build a garrison 
near to the point of attack. This he did at Huamanga, better known 
as Avacucho. Then, according to an ancient account, "Pizarro nom- 
inated a captain to defeat the Inca and make the roads safe/* This 
captain, seduced by the fiction that one Spaniard was worth one 
hundred Indians, set off with "five arquebusers, seven cross-bow- 
men and shield men" to surprise and capture the Inca. 

The terrible land with its rise and fall was so rugged that the 
soldiers by the time they had come upon the Indians were tired and 
worn. The Inca Lord himself, mounted "on one of the four horses 
he possessed" with lance in hand, headed the surprise attack. Only 
six Spaniards escaped alive. That night, the severed heads were 
thrown into the garrison village of Huamanga. 

The Indians, safe in an inviolable stronghold, attacked the Span- 
iards at will. Now even those Indian nobles who had at first col- 
laborated with the Spaniards were deserting to the new "kingdom." 
In 1542 six renegade Spaniards whose lives were forfeit sought sanc- 
tuary in the fortress. In 1544 the Viceroy, seeking to end the grow- 
ing power of Manco Capac, published the "New Laws" abolishing 
the slavery of the Indians and promising the return of their lands. 
At the same time he offered the six Spaniards a full pardon if they 
could persuade the Inca to accept the King's pleasure, come out of 
his mountain fastness and put an end to the revolt. The peace over- 
tures did not get much beyond an exchange of notes. One evening 
in a game of bowls an argument grew out of the play, and one 
Spanish hothead crowned the Inca with a bowling ball, killing him 
instantly. That ended not only the Inca but the peace overtures 
and, naturally, the lives of the six Spaniards. 


Somewhere, Lost Vilcabamba 

The Peruvians were determined to resist. When Manco Capac's 
successor suggested a compromise, he was poisoned and so another 
of the royal blood,Tupac Amaru, became the Inca and with him the 
new empire grew in power. All attempts by the enemy to reach this 
mysterious Vilcabamba had failed, all military expeditions were 
defeated and so, in a desperate move on the twentieth of July, 
1571, the "most puissant Lord, Don Francisco de Toledo, Viceroy 
of these kingdoms of Peru" did send for the Friar Gabriel de Oviedo 
of Cuzco to consult with him as to how to carry out the King's wish 
that the Inca, now retired in the province of Vilcabamba, be per- 
suaded to come out in peace . . . 

Now, pursuing his mission, armed with a guidance for negotia- 
tions and treaties and a Bull of Dispensation, Friar Gabriel went 
north from Cuzco to the Abancay River, crossed over the suspen- 
sion bridge, and so came to the rest house of Cocha-Cajas and "ar- 
rived at the station of Huampu . . . two days 3 journey from the 
province of Vilcabamba." 

The drift of my speculations about the existence of this fabled 
Vilcabamba is now apparent. If we could approximate the region 
where this mysterious last capital of the Incas lay, we could follow 
the Inca roads into it. Vilcabamba was not as much our concern as 
the network of roads leading into it. The question of where Vil- 
cabamba lay, then, might be resolved by a close study of the itin- 
erary of Friar Gabriel. 

Huampu, a small village near to the Apurimac River sixty miles 
northeast of Cuzco, was the sallyport of the Inca raids on the Royal 
Road. A suspension bridge had hung there, but the Friar found that 
it had been cut and the rope strands of the bridge lay in the water. 
Since there was no way of his crossing the swift current to the 
other side where he could resume his journey by the nearest route, 
he returned to Cuzco to approach the region by the only other 


Highway of the Snn 

route known, by way of the Urubamba, the same route which we 
were now taking. So journeying, the Friar soon came to the fortress 
of Ollantay-tambo, lying a few miles downstream from Yucay, 
and there gained the pass of Panti-calla. He crossed the great sus- 
pension bridge that hung across the Urubamba River and, after 
about three days' march into the Vilcabamba Range, he came to the 
headwaters of the Pampaconas River where he made contact with 
.the Inca. Yet, although we do know that Friar Gabriel was met at 
-some point near the fortress by the Inca and his mountain warriors, 
neither he nor any white man after him ever visited or described 
Vilcabamba, the last capital of the Incas. 

Hiram Bingham, the American historian and one-time Senator 
from Connecticut who discovered Machu Picchu in 1911, did not y 
we know now, find this Vilcabamba, as he believed. He was, it is 
true, searching for it and in the course of his explorations in the 
periphery of the region he did find numerous ruined sites including 
those of Machu Picchu. It is not to be wondered at that the sight of 
this unknown stone-built city lying in an almost perfect state of 
preservation atop the verdure-crowned mountains above the Uru- 
bamba led him to believe that he had indeed stumbled onto Vil- 

While ferreting out the known parts of the Inca road which led 
down this valley of the Urubamba, our program for research in 
this section of the Anti had gradually taken on form. Now we were 
ready for action. Thus far we had found and traced the Anti-road, 
the main Inca highway to the jungles. We had stopped when we 
approached the tangled montafia that lay east of Cuzco past the 
fortress of Pisac. From now on we would concern ourselves with 
the vast area of roads and ruins that lay in the escarpment of the 
massif of Vilcabamba* 


Somewhere, Lost Vilcabamba 

The Urubamba River east of Cuzco, one of the myriad head- 
waters of the Amazon, over the centuries has cut through the heart- 
land of this Vilcabamba Range. In the lower courses of the river, 
the canyon walls rise abruptly and the warm jungle-air currents 
wafting up the river have so modified the harsh climate that trees, 
wood plants and even, at times, lush verdure cap the sharply in- 
clined rock walls. On the edge of this gorge and for sixty miles in 
the direction of the jungle, the Inca built his hanging cities. The 
deep gorge was terraced here as at Pisac with long parallel walls of 
undressed stones following the contours of the mountains. On 
these, dwellings were built to house the inhabitants. Machu Picchu 
is the greatest of these stone cities, but each year others are being 
found. We knew that all of these must have been bound together 
by roads perhaps a single road. This we proposed to find. 

There was no vehicular road beyond a certain point and so we 
decided to load our trucks onto a flatcar belonging to the Cuzco- 
Santa Railway which operated to the end of the Urubamba Gorge. 
The Expedition was to separate into two sections. Three of us 
Silvia, Charles and myself would seek out the roads which bound 
the "hanging cities" together and arrive, we hoped, by this passage 
overland at Machu Picchu. The other contingent Lawrence, 
Henrik Blohm and a Cuzceno named Pepe de Pancorvo were to 
take the Power Wagon to the rail terminus at the end of the Uru- 
bamba Gorge and from that point seek to penetrate the mountain 
fastness to see if they could find traces of Inca roads that might 
lead to Vilcabamba. Later, after we had visited Machu Picchu, we 
would cut behind the valley and seek to find if it was joined by 
road to the region of Vilcabamba. Such was our program. 

To Henrik's question as to whether I thought we could one day 
find the roads that led to the sanctuary I answered that given time 
I thought we could. Certainly if the place were found, there would 
be ample evidence of its identity. Thousands of Indians had once 


Highway of the Sun 

lived there and with them into this sanctuary had gone gold and 
the mummies of their ancestors. Much, I was certain, still survived. 
However, the main object of our search was not Vilcabamba it- 
self but the skein of roads that had been built into this region. We 
had a quaint eighteenth-century map that gave us detailed direc- 
tions, and other maps which showed a network of roads and the 
remains of an Inca bridge that led into Vilcabamba. The time had 
now come for testing our research. 

After the fourth day of travel Silvia, Charles and I had left our 
mules, since there was no footing for them, to fight our way on 
foot along a road overhanging the gorge of Urubamba. "We had 
passed through the ruins of several spectacularly located sites and 
always there was the road, a great folkway six feet wide that moved 
along the edge of the canyon. This superb example of engineering 
with its stone paving blocks and its retaining walls of dry masonry 
literally hung on the edge of a shifting and a terrifying abyss. As 
I clung to an overhanging branch to swing around a tumbled mass 
blocking the free-flowing road and bent back to lend Silvia a hand, 
I wondered just why the Incas had bothered to build these hanging 
cities. The labor of constructing them must have involved thou- 
sands of Indians for an extended length of time. How then explain 
these ruins perched midway between the jungle and the clouds? 

On the fifth day out we came upon Ccuri-huayrachina ("the 
place where the gold is blown") , a small ruin so covered with trees 
that the outlines of the buildings could hardly be discerned. At this 
spot, the road curved to follow the contour of the massif. And at its 
end, gleaming whitely and little more than five miles away, was 
Machu Picchu. 

Walking was now a dangerous operation. A landslide, started 
perhaps by an earth-tremor centuries ago, had loosened the upper 


Somewhere, Lost Vilcabamba 

part of the mountain and in its falling had dragged away a mile or 
more of the stone roadway, forcing us to crawl in places from one 
stone to the other, holding on to some rough-barked plant until a 
foothold was secured. Our Indian guides walked carelessly across 
the loose stones with what I felt was a too reckless confidence in 
the Deity for below them there was a drop of two thousand feet. 
Swinging their machetes, they cleared the first of the entangling 
bush. Ahead of us, the sheer cliff on which the road had been once 
fixed was destroyed and the intervening space yawned out wildly 
and only a narrow line of remaining stone which had marked the 
road could be seen. Where the road itself once ran was a pile of dis- 
arranged rock. 

Three hours later, the bad section crossed, we gained a beautiful 
stretch of the highway and, after descending a long monumental 
stairway, entered the formal gateway to Machu Picchu. 

The ruins of Machu Picchu no one knows its original name 
lie in a topographical saddle between the peaks of Machu (old) and 
Huayna Picchu (new). In this saddle is a complex of terraces, ga- 
bled stone houses, temples, sacred plazas and residence compounds, 
and the famous Inti-huatana sundials. In its magnificent position, 
Machu Picchu is the climax of a series of the terraced cities along 
the Urubamba Gorge. Essentially a fortified city, its strongly 
constructed houses were most probably defense units. There was 
but one gate into the city, which, like most pucaras, was a self- 
sustaining unit whose terraces, following the contours of the moun- 
tains like a gigantic flight of steps, were planted to sustain its peo- 
ple. There were buildings of polished and well-fitted granite ashlars 
presumably designed for chieftains, a large place for the Sun Vir- 
gins, cruder clan-houses for the common people, barracks for sol- 
diers, and even a prison. All the buildings had once been thatched 


Highway of the Sun 

with straw while the interiors were Spartan in their severity. The 
Indian slept on the ground on a woolen poncho; and with the usual 
tapestry hung over the door to keep out the night breezes, the 
three-legged pots placed over the fire for cooking, a brazier for 
warming the house, and a few decorations, the house of one who 
lived in Machu Picchu was complete. 

The Vilcabamba contingent of the Expedition was already on 
the scene. Exhausted and tired from the long climb, we arrived to 
discover them comfortably installed in large huts, a bequest from a 
film company which some months before had been here to film a 
story as fantastic as it was improbable. The huts, however, were 
wonderfully useful. Machu Picchu has been so often visited and so 
completely described by others that we had no great reason for 
wanting to cover again what was now familiar ground. Although 
fantastically situated in the mountains, it was of no mystical import 
to the Incas. But we did hope to find if there had been, as was 
stated by Hiram Bingham, a direct connection between Machu 
Picchu and the vast geographical unknown to the north, where 
Vilcabamba was reported to lie. 

We climbed the one-thousand-foot peak of Huayna Picchu on 
our third day at the ruins. However, the steps which the Inca en- 
gineers had carved into the living rock have now been completely 
cleared, so that any real alpinist would regard it as no more than a 
mild exercise. Within an hour we were sitting on its top, looking 
down on the ruins and then on to the horizon ringed with snow- 
covered peaks. Below us was a fearful gorge and in the opposite di- 
rection was the terrifying range the Spaniard called "El Senorio de 
Vilcabamba." Somewhere beyond or perhaps in that mass of moun- 
tain and foliage and clouds was lost Vilcabamba. 

It was obvious, from this height, that Machu Picchu could not 
have been an inaccessible fortress. Indeed a determined enemy would 


Somewhere, Lost Vilcabamba 

have found its conquest no great problem. Charles had elected to 
follow the lone conduit pipe which conducted the water to the city 
up the precipitous slopes to its source. "With a flume only three 
inches in diameter, this would not have carried, in the dry season, 
enough water to supply more than a hundred people. A hostile army 
could have easily disrupted the water supply, which would have ne- 
cessitated a two-thousand-foot descent from the fortress to the 
river for water. This could mean only one thing. Machu Picchu was 
not, as Hiram Bingham would have it, the fortress of Vilcabamba 
where thousands of fierce warriors had for years eluded the Span- 
iard and had organized a new empire. 

Carefully we made our plans. Henrik with Lawrence would leave 
on the morrow to drive the Power Wagon with all the needed equip- 
ment for the search down the roadway to Huadquina. There they 
would be met by Pepe de Pancorvo, our Cuzceno friend. A de- 
scendant of one of the founders of Cuzco, Pepe lived in a large ha- 
cienda on the Bio Vilcabamba which had its origin in that mysteri- 
ous region where lay the last city of the Incas. His belief in the 
existence of Vilcabamba was unshakable. The rest of us would wait 
their return at Machu Picchu and explore it the while, before riding 
off on our own phase of the exploration. 

Three weeks later, in the crisp night air we heard, above the vi- 
brant music of the night cicadas, the high whine of the Dodge 
Power Wagon toiling up the hills of the Huadquina hacienda. Even 
before the light showed along the last stretch of the road we were 
out to meet them, after first securing the fierce dogs that guarded 
the place. Our associates were long overdue. We had had no certain 
word of them and, having finished our own survey of the regions 
about Machu Picchu, we had been invited to stay at the old eight- 
eenth-century sugar hacienda which lies at the edge of the Uru- 


Highway of the Sun 

bamba Gorge close to Machu Picchu and in direct line with the 
valley that we intended to follow when we left to explore the 
regions between our present stopping place and the Vilcabamba 

The Power Wagon was caked with mud, its bright red paint 
bleached by the tropical sun, the canvas caravan top cut into shreds. 
Richmond Lawrence, always frail, had thinned to a mere wisp and 
Henrik, who had reached his majority on this trek, had lost all his 
youthful bounce. All we could get from them, as they shuffled off 
toward the beds we had prepared for them, was that they had 
found "something." In the next days we learned what that '"some- 
thing" was: 


Our ancient map which showed charted rivers and mountains 
with curious jangling Quechua names could now be given credence. 
We felt certain that, locked within this montana and accessible, if 
one could give the time to find it, was Vilcabamba, last capital of 
the Incas. 

Henrik and Lawrence, following the trail Bingham had taken in 
1912, had found, as we had hoped, that Inca roads ran all through 


Somewhere, Lost Vilcabamba 

the region. There was no doubting their Inca origin. Lack of time 
had prevented them from following a large one running due west 
which would have taken them, so they learned later, to the ruin 
of Choque-quirao. The one they had followed northeast led to 
Choque-safra and from there a network of roads had spread over 
to the mountains. Along these, stone retaining walls and pottery 
fragments told as much as if the departed Incas had left behind a 
guide book. 

It was after they had worked their way back to the Vilcabamba 
River and picked up an old Indian as a guide that they discovered 
Puncuyoc. All day they had climbed up and up. At night they slept 
on a narrow ledge. The next day they went through large trees 
covered with gray-green moss which gave the foliage a bearded and 
venerable look. In the afternoon they came across the first traces of 
a stone road, the continuing flight of an Inca staircase road eight 
meters wide. On the third day, 1 3 ,000 feet high in hills terraced to 
the very top where worked-limestone ruins appeared ghostly 
through thick verdure, they found the ruins of Puncuyoc in a sad- 
dle at the crest. 

The drawing that Henrik made showed an unusual type of Inca 
structure. Built upon a raised platform perforated with large 
niches and stone roof -pegs, there was a thirty-two-foot-long build- 
ing of two stories, a great rarity in Andean construction. It had a 
gabled roof and a doorway with two windows on each side. Al- 
though the techniques were Inca, the handling of the architecture 
was Spanish-inspired. The discovery of some Spanish artifacts a 
button, broken horseshoes and nails and other pieces of iron in- 
termixed with late Inca artifacts indicated that at one time Span- 
iards had lived there, probably Spanish soldiers who willingly or 
unwillingly had been part of the secret Inca resistance groups. 
These ruins could only be the ramparts of the main fortress-city of 
Vilcabamba. Pepe de Pancorvo would not turn back at this point, 


Highway of the Sun 

and since Dick and Henrik could not go on with him because of our 
time schedule, Pepe was given the necessary equipment and was last 
seen making off on muleback in search of the lost city. 

The next morning, with the snow-clad beacon of Salcantay beck- 
oning to us, Silvia, Charles and I said our farewells to the two just- 
returned members of the Expedition. We were going on by mule to 
cut behind the range, hoping to discover the passage of the Inca 
roads, and would rejoin the others at the Apurimac Canyon. They 
were to gather up the trucks, go back to Cuzco, gather up the Ex- 
pedition gear and meet us at this river. That arranged, we mounted, 
crossed a dubious suspension bridge, found the mule path and were 
soon swallowed up in an ocean of sugar cane. 

Within three hours of upward riding through hills covered with 
ground orchids and wild strawberries we reached the bridge of 
Charqui-sactayoc, We were now directly back of Machu Picchu 
and so, keeping the river to our left, we went forward. 

The valley later in the day became a deep V at the bottom of 
which ran the river. Along its banks we saw the thin ribbon of the 
road. The "air-temper" had become so tropical that, instead of 
pressing along to the night station which we had set as a goal, we 
went slowly, drinking in the scene. We had spent a long time in 
the treeless puna without seeing flowering plants. Now, without dis- 
mounting and with only a stretch of arm, I could pluck the wild 
strawberries that grew in profusion on the road. Silvia gathered 
pink-white begonias and blue-flowered lupines which grew on the 
shaded banks and, putting them in the halter of her mule, she soon 
transformed that recalcitrant beast into a walking flower garden. 
Ground orchids soon appeared and above us bamboo climbed in a 
delicate lacy pattern. 

That night we camped at the edge of the gorge close to the cas- 
cades of the Salcantay River. Sharing the light of a single gasoline 
lamp, we read ourselves to sleep Silvia with Madame Bovary 


Somewhere, Lost Vilcabamba 

while I, trying to find some similarity between Roman and Inca 
roads, read Gibbon's Decline and fall and Charles was lost some- 
where in Prescott's Conquest of Peru. In the moonlight the hoary 
head of Salcantay was austerely beautiful. 

By the next noontime we had reached an altitude of over two 
miles on the highroad junction of Ccolpa-chaca. Below, far below, 
we could see a rustic four-logged bridge covered with rock and 

Salcantay's peak disappeared from view on the fourth day. For 
that entire day we rode among inhospitable crags a bare and 
horrible sandstone desolation until we reached another junction 
point on the Huay-rac-machay River. On our side, the sun-splashed 
side of the canyon, it was all jungle; the other side was bare and as 
dry as an old bone. Although we were now twelve thousand feet 
high we were still among the flora of the lowland jungles, and im- 
mense liana-festooned trees hung perilously on the inclined hills and 
we still saw the orchids and an occasional begonia. Sudden noise 
echoed through the thick foliage and we were set on by a raging 
torrent of cattle which stampeded by, crashing into the bush, tear- 
ing down the thick lianas and loosening a shower of branches. Sil- 
via's mule leaped forward terrified and as the rampaging steers came 
on us, it turned to join the stampede. Somehow I managed to grab 
Silvia's reins and haul her out of the path of the frenzied cattle. 
Then just as suddenly as it came, it was over, like a tropical storm 
which comes out of nothing and goes into nothing, leaving a train 
of destruction in its path. We stopped briefly to repair the slight 
damage. Then we once more began to climb. 

Now the tropic influence seemed to give way. Almost instantly at 
another rise of ground, we were among alpine flowers, tough-leafed, 
brilliantly flowered shrubs and more of the yellow-flowered brooms 
again mixed with solitary blue lupines. Then another five hundred 
feet altitude, and these too abruptly disappeared and we were en- 

Highway of the Sun 

veloped by the cold mist and the voids of the naked uplands. 
were again on the puna. 

There was nothing here but mist and rock and cold. It seemed 
hardly possible that people could have lived here. Yet just off the 
trail we came on a brilliant swatch of green and a house of sorts, its 
thatch covered with green mold out of which rose a plant scorning 
the" need for earth. Dogs set up an awful din. 

I peered into the house. Several people, hardly distinguishable in 
the dark, wandered about in the smoke -haze and small guinea pigs 
scurried about the mud floor. Charles leaned over my shoulder, 
sniffed and said: "Fll sleep outside/' 

The late afternoon was already frigid. Our guide brought us 
wood and Charles made a fire against a rock. Somewhere hidden in 
the mist were the mountains which had loomed up so high on my 
map. I looked at my altimeter it read 13,900 feet. Sleeping in 
the open would make this one of our coldest nights in Peru. 

For dinner we had chicken a la Salcantay, and shortly after that, 
overcome with an aching weariness, we took to our sleeping bags. 
Soon after, the mist blew away to reveal the full moon. Just ahead 
of us was Salcantay seemingly so near that we could touch it. I 
could plainly see the solidly packed snow at its top. With the moon- 
light playing on it, the great peak had a molten sheen and looked, as 
it was named, te savage." Then the mist came up like a theatrical 
drop-curtain forming more snow-mountains, brilliant in their daz- 
zling white nudity. It was breath-taking. Wrapped snug in my 
double sleeping bag, I watched the unearthly spectacle until the 
mist reclaimed the night and the curtain dropped on the magnifi- 
cent performance. 

It was a troubled sleep. All night we were wakened by the noise 
of glaciers; a sharp report, like the concussion of heavy artillery, 
then the rumbling and crackling of tons of snow; and the ground 
would shake as in an earth-tremor. It was a transfigured night. 


Somewhere, Lost Vilcabamba 

The morning sun was life-giving. The cold that had been so in- 
tense at dawn had modified by eight o'clock as the sun charged the 
earth with promised warmth. It grew even warmer as, mounting 
higher, we moved into the sun's path following icy rills toward the 
pass of Soiro-cocha. Salcantay was dazzling, reflecting rays of such 
fierce intensity that I found that I could not look at it for any 
length without becoming blinded. We spoke to each other rarely, 
for in this rapturous morning every movement was an effort. The 
very act of breathing was labor; even one's brain seemed slowed 
down as if it was a great effort for the blood to get through the 
blood vessels. Even the mules could scarcely put one hoof in front 
of the other. At last we reached the top a flat sward surrounded 
by rocks and snow and, at the very pinnacle, an enormous apa- 
cheta. Like automatons we slid off our mules, set them to graze; 
then as one man, we sank down on the sparse grass. I took out the 

"This is official," I managed to gasp the first thing I had said 
all morning which in itself showed the strain induced by altitude. 
"We are now at 5200 meters." 

"Which is," calculated Charles with his eyes closed, "seventeen 
thousand, one hundred and sixty feet." 

Silvia sat up at that. "Why! In Europe I'd be perched on top of 
Mont Blanc!" 

Later, endowed with new vigor, I planted the flag of the Ameri- 
can Geographical Society on the highest apacheta in Peru. The blue 
flag with the familiar U B I Q u E spread out in the wind. 

We had now, so to speak, cut the Salcantay Valley in half and 
still there was no evidence of any Inca road that might connect 
Machu Picchu with Vilcabamba. We turned toward the Apurimac 

An old man, seemingly as old as the earth itself, whom we had 
met on the road days before, had told us how not to lose our way. 

Highway of the Sun 

Using the familiar them he called Silvia "little child" he had 
said, "Thou first will come to the Soray. From it issues a stream. 
This stream flows into an aqueduct. Thou will see this. Keep it al- 
ways on thy right. It will lead thee into the Hacienda La Estrella." 

Still giddy from altitude sickness, we neared the glacier-topped 
Soray. From it flowed a stream so milk-white it looked like snow. 
As we rode downward, we saw that it disappeared into an aqueduct. 
Had we not known that this had been built in this century, we 
would have thought it Inca, so well laid was its stonework. For fifty 
miles it traveled on through the flume until it reached the hacienda 
for which we were bound. 

The prospect before us did not look too bright. The village of 
Soray was still some miles distant and Osvaldo, our guide, had lost 
our food hamper during the encounter with the stampeding cattle. 
At the time I had upbraided him for its loss, quite unjustly, I felt 
afterwards, for it could have happened to anyone. After that he had 
been unnaturally silent. Until then he had livened up the difficult 
way with his merrymaking and, although his humor was often ri- 
bald, it was easy and diverting. Now he was all gloom. I thought we 
should press on more quickly, for the shadows that told of cold and 
night were already oa us and even now the valley was darkened. 
Many times during that afternoon I cut back and urged Osvaldo on 
with the mules. 

We were now in a valley bound by high palisades which, though 
they threw cold shadows across the road, still caught the light of 
the departing sun. I dismounted to adjust my spurs. Silvia and 
Charles had ridden ahead; the cargo mules were, as usual, behind. 

I looked up to see Osvaldo slinking toward me, my rifle in his 
hands. I was unarmed my pistol was in my knapsack, I could 
scramble nowhere. As instinctively I put the mule between us, Os- 
valdo put a finger to his lips and pointed to the top of the palisade. 

A number of deer peered down at us. I counted nineteen. Os- 


Somewhere, Lost "Vilcabamba 

valdo handed me the rifle. I threw off the safety and wiggled for- 
ward. Even so, the movement had been enough to set them off. I 
aimed for the last one. The bullet caught him in full leap. For an 
instant he hung in mid-air, then as he rolled over and down, Os- 
valdo was off up the cliff as if 14,000 feet altitude were ground 

It snowed that night but we dined ravenously on roast venison 
and fire-baked potatoes. 

The sixth day and the last was the longest. The land was 
caked and dry and the only water we found was the thin trickle 
that here and there came down from that aqueduct. Following the 
advice of our old man, we had kept always on the right. We were 
unprepared for this dryness. Even in the shadow of snow-covered 
peaks, we were in a parched region where water seemed as- rare as 
on the desert coast. The day went on endlessly. We spoke only of 
food and water and what we would do about both when we arrived 
at La Estrella. 

Late in the afternoon we came to the first town we had seen 
since we left Huadquina, a small village with a large plaza, and 
what at first glance looked like neatly roofed houses. It was the same 
Mollepata that was visited eighty-nine years before by the Amer- 
ican explorer, Squier. At the time he was on his way, as were we 
now, to the Apurimac River and the famous suspension bridge that 
hung across the gorge. Like us, he too had ridden for some days. 
"We came at nightfall to the village of Mollepata," he wrote. "It is 
a collection of wretched huts on a high shelf of the mountain, with 
a tumbled-down church, a drunkard governor who is also the 
keeper of the hovel called a post-house, and a priest as dissolute as 
the governor." The church, at least, is not now "tumbled down." 

We inquired here the way to La Estrella. No one seemed able to 


Highway of the Sun 

help us. By good luck we again found the aqueduct high in the hills 
and, still keeping it on our right, we found that presently waterway 
and roadway were running parallel. Since the former, we suspected, 
carried the water supply that ran the mills of the hacienda, we 
could not, if we kept to it, miss our goal. In the distance we had a 
brief look at the gorge of the Apurimac. Across it, in this vicinity, 
had once hung a great Inca bridge, known now to the world as the 
"Bridge of San Luis Rey" which up until the middle of the last cen- 
tury was one of the world's longest suspension bridges. In the dark 
we followed the plunging watercourses downward, short-cutting 
through the fields toward a spot where lights twinkled among the 
trees. We were almost there when out of the dark came the dogs, 
but, of one mind to get to those large hacienda gates, we paid little 
attention to the beasts. 

We pushed open the huge wooden gates and the mules clattered 
noisily over the cobblestone courtyard. In the center was a foun- 
tain, a life-size cherub clasping a swan from whose mouth gushed a 
clear stream of cold water. We were drinking deeply, unmindful of 
our mules who shared the water with us, when I heard a step behind 
me and, turning, we saw David Samenez, owner of the hacienda, an 
old friend from Cuzco who had invited us here to see and photo- 
graph what was left of the great bridge. 

So, convoyed by our host and the great gray mastiffs that guarded 
the hacienda, we wearily climbed the steps and entered a charming 
patio planted with orange trees hung with ripe fruit. 

Too stiff to sit, we took the proffered orange juice standing, and 
soon came alive to talk about our coming trip to the nearby ruins 
of the bridge now known to millions, the "Bridge of San Luis Rey." 

1 20 


Apurimact the Bridge of the 
Great Speaker 

1 HE RIVER below looked like a writhing serpent, twisting between 
the chasm that was spotted with stands of cactus and blossom-cov- 
ered spined trees. Its dull roar, the well-known sound of the Apuri- 
mac, the "Great Speaker/' could be heard even where we stood two 
thousand feet above it. 

We were out that day to take the measure of the giant which has 
etched out a grand canyon through Peru's heartland and, with Da- 
vid, had ridden out from the hacienda to the river's edge. From this 
perilous position, we peered over the sandstone abutments down 
into the vortex of the dreaded river. Water here is everything. If 
the rainfall is too little, the whole valley even at this high altitude is 
burned crisp from the heat of the sun; and if too much falls, the 
surface of the river rises as high as forty feet within a single day 
and in minutes the raging torrent washes away, as it did in the au- 
tumn of 19^3, that which man has spent a lifetime building. 

The Apurimac had been the Rubicon of the Incas. For centuries 
it held their northward movement in check; but once their tech- 
nology advanced to the point where they could bridge it, they 
hung a suspension bridge, the greatest in all Peru, across it. At once 
they pushed their empire northward at a fearful pace. 


Highway of the Sun 

It was known as **the Bridge," and in the minds of the Spaniards 
it was coextensive with Peru itself. For the early Spaniards, the 
crossing of it filled them with fright and terror. Records and letters 
are filled with their plaints of how the bridge swung in the heavy 
wind, how deep was the dark abyss, how terrifying the thunder of 
the roar of the water as the sounds ricocheted against the vertical 
rock-walls; how their pulses raced, their eyes grew dim, their hearts 
faint as they hung onto the rope-cables and made a traverse of it. 
"It is," said one, <c no small terror that is caused by seeing what men 
must pass through in these indies." 

The longest continuously used bridge in the Americas, millions 
of people crossed over it during the six hundred years of its exist- 
ence. Inca armies of conquest flowed over it; gold for the ransom of 
Artahualpa made its one-way passage across it; the Spanish fought 
their civil wars over and around it; and for three centuries colo- 
nists moving on the King's business used it. Even in the days of the 
South American republics this bridge was the only way of crossing 
the <e Great Speaker." Yet it would have been forever forgotten had 
it not been for two Americans. In 1864 George Squier stopped long 
enough in his journey through the region to give it, by means of 
the only authentic illustration ever made of it, a detailed and ac- 
curate description; and in 1927 another American, Thornton Wil- 
der, immortalized it in The Bridge of San Luis Rey. 

David Samenez had insisted on accompanying us out to the 
bridge site. He was after all, he reminded us with much jesting, the 
owner of the Bridge of San Luis Rey. Moreover, he had been born 
at the hacienda of Bellavista, close to where the ancient road made 
its descent to the bridge. 

This hacienda, which drew its water from the weeping glaciers of 
Soray thirty miles distant, lay on a flat tableland overlooking the 
gorge of the river. It had been developed by David's father, a man 
who did not allow his gentle birth to prevent him from working 


Apurimac: the Bridge of the Great Speaker 

with his hands, an eccentricity which in the last century in Peru was 
considered a social crime. He had built up his hacienda, had fought 
against a dictator, holding off a large contingent of troops near to 
the site of the old bridge and, in 1935, had served his country 
briefly as President of Peru. All this we learned as, mounted on our 
borrowed horses, we made our way over the highway. 

The mountains were beautiful that day Salcantay, its hoary 
head unbelievably high in the cobalt blue of the sky, accompanied 
as it were in the heavens by Mount Huamantay with its 5000 feet 
of glistening snow. An undulating greensward planted with lucerne 
lined the ancient highway, whose roadbed here had been destroyed 
by the passing caravans of five centuries. 

We moved on beyond to where the earth yawned out widely 
and there began the ride downward. It took us some hours to get 
to La Blanca, once a way stop on the descent of the Inca road to- 
ward the canyon which led to the great bridge. But from La Blanca 
we could go no farther. The landslides caused by the rampaging 
Apurimac had destroyed the rock walls of the canyon. The careful 
stone terracing of the Incas, erected as long ago as 1390, still hung 
in sections over the abyss, yet there was no longer any way of get- 
ting down. Far below our binoculars, following David's pointing 
finger, picked out the stone steps that led to the bridge ramparts. 
All else was obscured. To reach the bridge, we would have to cross 
to the other side of the river and approach it from its northern side. 

On our way back we watched the setting sun painting the snow- 
capped mountains with radiant rainbow colors, and David pointed 
out to us the snow-covered Yanacocha fifteen miles away. Even as 
he pointed it out, my powerful binoculars picked up another river 
plunging down the precipitant slopes to join the Apurimac. About 
midway between the glacier and the river were the ruins of Choque- 
quirao, the only extensive Inca ruins known in this part of the Vil- 
cabamba Range. They could be reached, he said, in a two days' walk 

High-way of the Sun 

from the village of Inca-huasi. Did David know if the road led to 

<c My great uncle was one of the first to visit the ruins of Choque- 
quirao. He kept a journal which I have in the house. He once trav- 
eled beyond these ruins and he insisted that those roads led to Vil- 
cabamba, in just the region which you pointed out to me on the 
map/ 5 

We knew this to be true, for when Hiram Bingham found his 
way to the ruins in 1912, he had seen written on the walls the 
name of JOSE BENIGNO SAMENEZ 1861. One day, I knew, we 
should have another try at this fabulous Vilcabamba, but to go now 
would be to upset our carefully planned schedule. I felt' at this mo- 
ment like an earthy Pangloss, always interrupting our wishful 
thinking with "Let us cultivate our garden." But if we could not 
now go to Vilcabamba, we could at least visit and inspect all that 
was left of the Bridge of San Luis Rey. 

We began early in the day, so as to avoid the excessive heat. Be- 
fore the peaks were lighted by the ascending sun, we gathered our 
gear and Indians together and were driven to the left bank on the 
northwest side of the Apurimac. Here we began the fifteen-hun- 
dred-foot descent into the gorge. Encumbered as we were with cam- 
eras and guide-ropes, our descent between the stands of fiercely 
spined cactus over loose gravel-sand was a little like the perform- 
ance of a slow-paced slalom. The heat at the bottom, even in the 
morning, was furnace-hot, and the cactus and sharp-spined acacia 
accented the desertlike look of the place. As we walked along, heat 
waves danced before our eyes like St. Elmo's fire, and to add to our 
discomfort the flies gave us no rest. They flew in gyrating circles 
about our eyes and our ears, and the prick of their proboscises was 
like a needle's stab. 


Apurimac: the Bridge of the Great Speaker 

In this September month we found the Apurimac at its dryest, 
the land slashed with canyons like the wadis of Africa. The dryness 
was only a temporary state, for the shallow rivulets could rise with 
callous ease and within a fierce day of rain be raging torrents. The 
sides of the gorge were a horrible sandstone desolation cloven down 
in giant cuts, while below was a wide waste landscape. The gorge 
itself rose abruptly to the puna and higher above us, almost as a 
mirage, were snow-covered mountains. 

"We were not alone in feeling the heat. Our Indians felt it too. 
I remembered reading in some history how the tc lnca took the Indi- 
ans from the coastal desert of Nasca to transfer them to the river 
Apurimac; because that river, where the royal highway goes from 
Cuzco to Lima, passes through a region so hot that the upland In- 
dians . . . cannot live in its heat. So the Inca, bearing this in 
mind, took Indians from the coastal regions to settle in these hot re- 
gions even though the River Apurimac has only a small place to set- 
tle, for, passing through high and rugged mountains, it has very lit- 
tle useful land, and yet the Inca would not have this little bit go to 
waste but wished it to be used for gardens so as to be able to enjoy 
at least the abundant good fruit which is raised on the banks of 
that famous river." But whatever orchards had been here had long 
since been destroyed by time, and by the high bourne of this river, 
a headwater of the Amazon, which had its source a hundred miles 
southwest in the barren mountains of Chumbivilca. 

The small biting flies were at their worst when late in the after- 
noon we came to the rock walls that once sustained the bridge. At 
this point the Apurimac cuts into a gorge of solid rock walls which 
rise straight and sheer to considerable height. Confined to a narrow 
channel, the river roared its disapproval in such deafening tones 
that we had to communicate by hand signals. 

A tunnel through which the road ran lay above us some one 
thousand feet on the sides of the limestone cliff. Henrik notched up 


Highway of the Sun 

his rucksack, played out the rope and started the climb. He found a 
narrow ledge and secured himself. Dick Lawrence followed, holding 
fast to his camera. Next went David and Charles, then Silvia and 
last, myself. The Indians found their own way. I could see Henrik 
far up edging toward an overhanging rock that jutted out above 
the river. It was a slow process. Perspiration pouring down my face 
attracted the insects and the flies which, since my hands were well 
occupied, had their suctorial delight. By the time I reached a spot 
where I could rest and wipe my face, blood freely mingled with 
the sweat. 

One of the most dangerous aspects of the operation was the 
crumbling stone. A projection which we supposed strong enough 
to use as a belay turned out under the pull of our ropes to be virtu- 
ally as shifty as beach sand. Dick Lawrence, who had taken the 
greater punishment since he would not relinquish either his tripod 
or camera to anyone, was having trouble overhead. There had been 
a steady rain of sandstone and now and again a sharp curse, but as 
I could see little, I was unaware until later how dangerous some of 
those moments had been. Henrik led us very expertly up and over 
to the section of the precipice from which the bridge once hung 

We were now standing on what had once been one of the most 
important of the Inca roads. The celebrated tunnels were ahead of 
us and from this vantage place we could see now, and for the first 
time, the place of the bridge. The Inca road coming out of Molle- 
pata, the last tampu station on the Cuzco side, had been run over 
the high-placed pampa to Bellavista near to the edge of the gorge. 
From that point it had zigzagged down the artificially terraced 
canyon to the valley fifteen hundred feet below. It had then fol- 
lowed the valley to the gorge, where mounting steps had been cut 
into the walls of an obelisk-shaped pinnacle. This had been reached 
by a narrow inclined path, once ingeniously built with retaining 


Apurimac: the Bridge of the Great Speaker 

walls; and from there the road mounted to a platform cut into 
rock. The thick suspension cables of the bridge on the Cuzco side 
had been fastened deep down in the floor of the platform. The ca- 
bles, suspended from two stone towers, were then carried to the 
other side where, we were to find later, there was a similar natural 
platform. From the platform on our side of the river, the road 
twisted upward until it came to the cliffs which, because they were 
of extremely friable sandstone, could not be surmounted. Faced 
with this geological fact, the Inca engineers tunneled through them. 
The tunnel near which we were now standing was about two hun- 
dred yards long and inclined upward as it turned with the cliff. 
From here the road climbed to the heights of the naked ct idol moun- 
tain" x and then, adapting itself to the topography of the land, it 
went north to the next tampu station. 

Lawrence, having taken up a position on an edge overhanging 
the abyss of the river, set up his camera to film us filing into the 
blackened mouth of the tunnel. As it was impossible to hear over 
the reverberations of the ''Great Speaker, 35 we waited for his arm 
signal, then we moved by him and entered the tunnel. Sunlight 
poured into its darkened throat. I stopped at the first window open- 
ings. Then I suddenly realized that Lawrence had not followed us. 
I turned back in panic, and not seeing him, flung myself on my 
stomach to look down below into the churning river. He was no- 
where to be seen and I was about to rise and go for the others 

1 At this point the idol of Apurimac, so wrote one of the conquista- 
dores, was lodged in a much-painted hut and set up on a thick beam, 
thicker than a very fat man, and this had many pieces hacked out of it. 
It had a girdle of gold bound around it and soldered so as to resemble lace 
and on the front of it two large golden teats, like a woman's . . . Along 
this thick beam there were other idols, in a line, from one side to another, 
and they occupied the entire length of the room. These were likewise 
bathed in blood and clothed in golden robes like the large one. Through 
this largest idol, they say it was, the demon of the river used to speak to 
them. (Pedro Sancho, in his Relation.) 


Highway of the Sun 

when I saw him struggling just below me within hand-reach in 
the branches of a tree. He had fallen and had been caught in a tree 
growing out of the ledge. There he hung, suspended between heaven 
and hell. Somehow he had managed to hang on to his camera. This 
he handed up to me, then he climbed up, terribly shaken, to the 
tunnel-ledge. There was not much more camera work the rest of 
that afternoon. 

The walls of the tunnel, which was two hundred and fifty yards 
long by actual measurement, were pierced with openings to allow 
in the light and air. Through these ''windows," into which I 
climbed, I could see the snow-topped peaks of Mt. Marcani beyond 
us. The tunnel had been fashioned by the Incas much as the Ro- 
mans mined rock. After a fierce fire had been built against it, water 
was thrown on the hot rock splitting the friable lime and sand- 
stone. After that the Incas with their knowledge of working stone 
with stone were presented with no problem. Their daring tech- 
niques in engineering were something else. At the end of the tun- 
nel, which had once been connected with a stone stairway cut and 
built into the living rock, we eased across that dangerous cleft and 
gaining the circular stairway, we went very slowly down the step- 
road. Cieza de Leon back in 1543 had had trouble with these same 
stairways, even when they were in good repair: "Here the road is so 
rugged and dangerous, that some horses laden with gold and silver 
had fallen in and been lost without any chance of saving them/' 
Several hundred feet below, we came to what had been the plat- 
form, on which we found the remains of the two enormous stone 
towers or pillars supporting the cables of the bridge. Two hundred 
feet directly in front of us, across the stygian gap of the river, we 
could clearly see the other side of this "bridge of the . . . Apuri- 
mac-chaca." Cieza had written that it "was the largest bridge en- 
countered from Cajamarca . . . with the road well built along the 


Apurimac: the "Bridge of the Great Speaker 

sides of the mountains. . . . The Indians who built it must have 
performed herculean labor. . . /' 

No precise data can be given for the bridge's construction. After 
the year 1300 the Incas expanded their realm to the edge of the 
Apurimac and about this time, according to their chronicles, Inca 
Roca, then chieftain, finished the bridge. This would have been 
circa A.D. 1350. The detailed description of its structure is given by 
the Cuzco-born historian Garcilaso de la Vega, surnamed "The Inca": 

The Apurimac bridge which lies on the royal road from 
Cuzco to Lima has its pillar support [he called it stirrup] made 
up of the natural rock on the Cuzco side; on the other side 
[where we were now standing trying to figure it all out] was 
the stone tower, made of masonry. Under the platform that 
held this tower, five or six large wooden-beams were inserted 
as thick as oxen they stretched from one side to another. 
They were placed one higher than the other like steps. Around 
each of these beams, each of the suspension cables is twisted 
once so that the bridge will remain taut and not slacken with 
its own weight, which is very great. 

Until nineteenth-century technology ushered in the use of iron 
chains for suspension cables, this Bridge of San Luis Rey, hanging 
by enormous rope-cables across the Apurimac, was one of the larg- 
est bridges of its type known. The Incas had no knowledge of the 
arch, nor did any of the preliterate peoples in America, Depending 
as it does upon the principles of gravity, pressure and weight, the 
arch is yet earthbound and passive and therefore could not have 
been used here even had the Incas been familiar with it. Instead, 
they perfected the principles of the suspension bridge by reversing 
the arch-curve and giving it wings. 

The Bridge of San Luis Rey, as were all suspension bridges on the 
Royal Road, hung from rope cables hand twisted from the fibers 


Highway of the Sun 

of the maguey plant. Those of this bridge of "the thickness of a 
man's body/' were just laid over the high stone towers for their 
"suspending" and then buried in the thick masonry on the platform 
of the towers. From the suspended cables, supports hung down, and 
to these the bridge platform made of wood planking was attached. 
Cables attached to the main bridge served as wind bracing. 

Although the materials were primitive, the essential nature of 
the technology of the Inca suspension bridge is, in principle, the 
same as the best constructed suspension bridges of today. Rope 
bridges have been built since immemorial times, but few other cul- 
tures before the advent of recent times built so well as the Inca. 
This particular bridge indeed was so well made that it lasted for 
five hundred years, the cables, of course, being renewed every two 
years as a part of their work-service by Indians living at the tampu 
of Cura-huasi. This system of maintenance, so efficacious that the 
Spanish conquerors maintained it throughout the colonial period, 
disappeared only after the "wheel" conquered the Andes, and the 
bridge which had served as a highway for foot and mule traffic for 
a period of six hundred years was allowed to fall into slow decay. 

The Incas built for eternity. Permanence was to them, as it was 
with the Romans, the base of all their construction. If the Inca 
road system is here occasionally compared with the Roman road 
system, it is because, until very recent time, there have been no 
other communication systems that can be compared with either. 
Other civilizations had, of course, their highways, but until the ad- 
vent of the Romans none maintained a road system. 2 

However, structurally an Inca road differed greatly from a Ro- 
man road. The Romans employed heavy-wheeled carts with rigid 

2 In the times of Diocletian, thirty roads issued from, the gates of 
Rome; maintaining more than three hundred and seventy distinct roads, 
the entire Roman Road system is believed to have totaled 53,568 miles. 


Apurimac: the Bridge of the Great Speaker 

front axles which necessitated a deep roadbed. The Incas, since their 
roads were traveled only by those on foot and by llama herds, had 
no need for the roadbed. But aside from this the two engineering 
concepts, Roman and Inca, are amazingly similar. While there is 
no denying Rome's place in civilization's sun, the Incas living on 
a neolithic cultural horizon tied to stone tools still conceived a com- 
munication system that stands extremely high in comparison with 
the Roman. 

The Romans had three thousand years of experience to draw on. 
The facets of Old World thought and techniques . regarding the 
building of roads are a vast web stretching from the first wagon 
ruts of ancient India to the stoneways of the Persians. As remote as 
certain of these areas were, as removed from each other by time 
and space, the Romans had all these centuries of cultural heritage 
on which to draw. The Inca had none of these, yet an Inca road is. 
in many aspects superior to a Roman road. Every feature of a Ro- 
man road is paralleled in an Inca road except that, for the most part,, 
the Incas built literally in the clouds. The Apurimac Bridge,, 
for example, was part of a highway which came from heights the 
like of which no Roman had ever seen. The passes the Roman con- 
quered were as nothing compared to these in the Andes; Mont 
Blanc, the highest peak in Europe, is 15,800 feet high; yet here in. 
Peru we have walked over Inca roads built at this height. The old 
Roman roads which crossed the spine of the Italian promontory of 
the Apennines were no higher than the city of Cuzco, which is 
10,200 feet above the sea. Again we turn to our Cieza. As a boy 
in Spain, he knew the Roman Road. He had walked between Tar- 
ragona and Cadiz over the Via Augusta, built in the first century 
B.C. and rebuilt every quarter of the century by the Caesars. He 
drove his mules over the Via Argenya, which ran between Merida 
and Salamanca a road which was started by Tiberius, continued 
by Nero and fully repaired by Caracalla in A.D. 214, so he and oth- 


Highway of the Sun 

ers like him knew what they were saying when they wrote of Inca 
roads that there is "nothing in Christendom that equals the mag- 
nificence of the Inca roads." 

The remarkable thing is the similarity in approach to the "idea" 
of roads between the Inca and the Roman. Both civilizations were 
of the land. Both had land armies, and land armies need roads; and 
since a road is only a road if one can go back over it, both believed 
that the road must be well built and well maintained. The Romans, 
it is true, ruled the straight line into civilization's thinking, whereas 
the Inca's xo&d, surmounted obstacles rather than avoided them, and 
their engineers employed what we call "directional straightness" 
that is, between two given points their road ran unerringly straight. 
Caius Caesar personally laid down vast stretches of road and the 
Claudian family, when public funds were not available, defrayed 
expenses for road building out of its own privy purse. In Peru the 
road-building program was also identified with the rulers and the 
roads were called after the Inca who built them. For example, one 
25Oo-mile long road that ran to Chile was known as Huayna Capac 
Nan, or the Road of Huayna Capac. Often an Inca would order a 
road to be built for himself wider and larger than that of his prede- 
cessor. The Romans put up milestones as markers while the Incas 
built their topus "with the distance between them a Castilian league 
and a half.'* Along their road, the Romans placed night quarters or 
mansiones; in Peru, the Incas erected and maintained tampus every 
four to eight miles along the entire route of their roads. Roman 
couriers had a change of horse-mounts at mutationes to hurry up 
messages along the Imperial Way; the Incas, depending on foot, 
had their chasqni stations every two-and-a-half miles as way sta- 
tions for the trained runners who carried messages over the most 
terrifying terrain in the world. 

The bridge, "the little brother of the road," was ever an im- 
portant link in the great Inca road system. How many of them 


Apunmac: the Bridge of the Great Speaker 

there were along the length and breadth of the Andes, we cannot 
be sure. But of them all, the Apxirimac-chaca, the Bridge of San 
Luis Rey, was the greatest. Few who passed over it did so without 
pausing to wonder at this miracle of engineering. As to its length, 
the Inca historian, Garcilaso de la Vega, guessed it to be 200 paces 
long "although I have not measured it, I have asked many in 
Spain who did." Cieza, that most accurate of observers, thought it 
was "fifty estados" or about 85 meters (250 feet) in length. Sir 
Clements Markham, who crossed it in 1855, estimated the Apuri- 
mac-chaca at 90 feet and its elevation 300 feet, while Lieutenant 
Lardner Gibbon, who made a survey of the Amazon for the United 
States Government in 1857, estimated its length at 324 feet. 

When Squier came to the bridge in the summer of 1864, he and 
his companions lost no time extracting the measuring tapes and 
sounding lines. They found that the bridge was 148 feet long from 
end to end and that it was suspended 1 1 8 feet above the surging 
river. That was the first and last time this famous bridge was ex- 
actly measured, for although it was still hanging in 1890 it was no 
longer used and the cables, unreplaced, curved dangerously down- 
ward into the gorge and were slowly decaying with time. The ex- 
plorer Squier also made several daguerreotypes of it, which he used 
in a somewhat dramatized and heightened version as a woodcut 
illustration in his book Peru, Land of the Incas. Of the bridge, he 
wrote : 

Between the precipices on either side, looking wonderfully 
frail and gossamer -like, was the famed bridge of the Apurimac. 
A steep, narrow path following some distance a natural shelf, 
formed by the stratification of the rock, for the rest of the way 
hewn in its face, led up for a hundred feet to a little platform 
also cut in the rock where were fastened the cables supporting 
the bridge. On the opposite bank was another and rather larger 
platform roofed by rock where was the windlass [a feature 
added by the Spaniards] for making the cables taut and where, 


Highway of the Sun 

perched like goats on some mountain shelf, lived the custodi- 
ans of the bridge. ... It was a memorable incident in my 
traveling experiences that crossing of the great swinging 
bridge of the Apurimac; I shall never forget it. 

Later, in the beginning of the present century, Hiram Bingham 
in speaking of the origins of his interest in Peru said that this illus- 
tration of the bridge "was one of the reasons why I decided to go 
to Peru." 

It is known that this dramatic picture of the bridge inspired 
Prosper Merimee to use it as a literary device in a fictional piece on 
Peru, and that Thornton Wilder, later inspired both by the sug- 
gestions of the French writer and the great span that crossed the 
Apurimac, and fascinated by its picturesque remoteness, wrote 
what is now a literary masterpiece, The Bridge of San Luis Rey. 
With this book in hand I now stood looking down on the hiatus 
between the walls where the bridge once hung. Later I wrote 
Thornton Wilder from La Estrella hacienda where we stayed dur- 
ing our assault on the bridge's factual and legendary history. I 
knew that he regarded the bridge as a literary device, but so well 
had he described this bridge on the high road between Lima and 
Cuzco that I felt that he must have seen, perhaps in some old issue 
of Harper's Magazine, a reproduction of Squier's stirring woodcut 
of this ancient bridge which was in fact the actual hero of his 
novelette. "It is best, von Hagen," he answered me, "that 1 make 
no comment or point of it ... I wish I were with you and could 
see the great river and the gorge." 

The afternoon wind came up loud and shrill as we were standing 
on the platform that once held the great suspension cables of the 
bridge to set the foliage that clung to the rock walls rustling. We 
knew now that an old adage about the wind and the bridge was 


Apurimac: the Bridge of the Great Speaker 

true and that when the afternoon winds blew, even the wind-braced 
cables could not hold the bridge steady and it would swing like a 

It was late afternoon by the time we regained the boulder-strewn 
shores of the river. The sun was lighting the snow peaks while the 
shadows of the mountains fell across the canyon. A long shadow 
falling across the vertical cliffs gave a curious illusion of a hanging 
bridge. At that moment I must have been very close to the spot 
where the good Fra Juniper had stood looking upward at the bridge 
when a "twanging noise filled the air ... and he saw the bridge 
divide and fling the five people into the river below." 

"Why did this happen to those five?" the good Fra asked himself, 
"if there were any plan in the universe at all, if there were any pat- 
tern in a human life, surely it could be discovered mysteriously 
latent in those lives so suddenly cut off. Either we live by accident 
and die by accident or we live by plan or die by plan/' With that 
soliloquy Wilder began his story. It is an ironic truth that if this 
tragic story had not been written, this wondrous bridge built in 
1350 by the Inca Roca which was to endure for five centuries as 
one of the greatest tributes to man's domination of wild nature, 
would have been lost to memory. 

With the dying sun now playing fully on the glaciers, the river 
canyon became as bright as if it were full day. The shadows were 
gone and, with them, the illusion of the hanging bridge. When I 
next looked back, there was again only emptiness between the two 
vertical walls. 


I X 
The Sanctuary of the Hawk 

I HE VERDANT LAND that surrounded Andahuaylas was wonder- 
fully inviting after the blank and naked misery of soil that we had 
endured for the past weeks. For the hundred miles that separated 
the Bridge of San Luis Rey from this town we had driven over a 
desolate void and our search across the deep valleys and high tree- 
less ridges had been through country so bleak that it almost robbed 
us of our sense of beauty. At last from the highest point in the 
winding vehicular road we saw in the distance a shaft of sunlight 
warming an immense green plateau. In the center of this on a high 
ridge was Andahuaylas. 

A quick glance at the town told us that it offered us only the 
sorriest of night quarters, so we doubled back to a farm which we 
had seen earlier to seek a place to stay. On the way we passed na- 
tives working on the dirt road. They doffed their wide-brimmed, 
llama- felt hats in a cringing and timorous manner, and like so 
many harvester ants, they went on shoveling the movable earth 
into their woolen tunics; then, folding over the ends of their 
ponchos, they hauled it off to the edge of the abyss and dumped it. 
The same garment was their coat and, at night, their blanket. 

The hacienda was of ancient vintage with a grass thatch covered 
with a mold three fingers deep out of which grew many small 

The Sanctuary of the Hawk 

plants. It was, like most adobe structures, without grandeur or dig- 
nity, moldering and old. 

Near the main house were men in shaggy clothing who could 
have stepped out of a Brueghel canvas. Their pants were of baggy 
blue homespun, split so deep in front that their genitals had to be 
held by a sort of cod-piece. The jackets were short. And these with 
their woolen ponchos were all they possessed with which to cover 
their shivering bodies. On their heads they wore sodden, shapeless 
felt hats. All were addicted to the coca-leaf habit and the corners 
of their mouths were flecked with green spittle. Each carried a goat- 
skin in his hand and each moved in an obedient line toward a cop- 
per tank where the sharp-eyed hacendado stood periodically open- 
ing the tap to stive the alcohol in the barrel-skins. Each time he 
noted down the amount dispensed. This scene, so characteristic of 
the region, was like a tableau out of the sixteenth century. 

The great Inca road through the town long since disappeared 
under the modern road which has been laid over the old roadbed. 
Yet in Inca times Andahuaylas had been an important stop on the 
road, a royal tampu, "In the center of the province of Anda- 
huaylas, there were large lodgings and storehouses of the Incas," 
wrote one Spanish scrivener. There was now, however, nothing left 
of this tampw, no ruined structures, no remains of the road or even 
memories of it among those we questioned. And so we would have 
gone on had it not been that here we found ourselves absorbed in 
the history and the legends of the Chancas. "We were to come across 
their traces for some hundreds of miles until we entered the jungles. 

Today the Chancas are only a legend, but to the Incas they were 
the hierarchy of their enemies. They had once had the audacity to 
attack sacred Cuzco and had almost succeeded in taking it. So 
feared were these people that, as has been said in a previous chapter, 
the Incas, in conquering them, did not treat them with their usual 
policy of "absorption with honors" into the empire, but slaught- 


Highway of the Sun 

ered, flayed and stuffed the skins of Chanca warriors and set them 
up in tombs in a ridiculous mimicry of life as a perpetual reminder 
of Inca justice. 

When I entered this province of Andahuaylas [in r 548 
so goes the notation in the record kept by our good friend 
Cieza] its chief was an Indian named Huasco and its natives 
were called Chancas. They go around dressed in woolen shirts 
and mantles; they all wear their hair long, arranged into many 
small plaits, tied up with some woolen cords. In former times 
they were so valiant that they not only conquered other lord- 
ships but extended their dominions near to Cuzco. . . . The 
chief Hanco-Huallu, so famous in these parts for his great 
bravery, was a native of this land. They relate that he could 
not endure to live under the yoke of the Incas and so ... 
he penetrated with 8000 of his warriors into the depths of the 
forest of Moyobamba [in the Amazon]. 

In the late fourteenth century, this tribe had stood in the way 
of the Inca's northern expansion, blocking passage across the Apuri- 
mac River and fighting so fiercely that Inca engineers found it im- 
possible to go ahead with bridging the river. At last the Chancas 
were repulsed by the sixth Lord Inca, who completed the bridge 
and set about absorbing the Chancas into his empire. However, 
these warriors, chafing under the benevolent despotism of the In- 
cas, attacked Cuzco and burned part of the city. They were finally 
defeated on the "Plain of Blood.'* It was sometime after this event 
that Hanco-Huallu and his army of eight thousand Chancas, in- 
cluding women, escaped to the forests of the upper Maranon. For 
permitting this to happen, the Inca general, Capca Yupanqui, was 
executed on his return to Cuzco. 

The Incas never forgot the Chancas. In time they conquered all 
the tribes far down into southern Chile and absorbed others in the 
upper Amazon. They claimed the mountains to the north up to the 


The Sanctuary of the Hawk 

borders of what is now Colombia. Yet, masters of all this terrain, 
they never stopped fearing the Chancas hidden somewhere in the 
forests of Chachapoyas. Their pursuit of this hated foe plays an 
important role in the history of the Inca roads, and for more than 
a year we were to follow its course through the Andes and into the 

We would have liked at this point to walk northward as they 
must once have walked over the fragments of the Inca road 
across the wild sandstone uplands which lay northwest of Anda- 
huaylas and so within a few days arrive in the once great Inca 
center of Vilcas-huaman. We decided instead to make a great arc 
around the area to be explored, find a place for headquarters and 
double back to this "geographical center of the Inca Empire." In 
so doing, we came to Ayacucho. 

This venerable colonial city with its moss-covered sagging 
roofs, its old moldering churches and the remains of what were 
once great baronial mansions dropping into slow decay made us 
feel as if we were looking at the models for some of Piranesi's he- 
roic copper -plates. It was a delightful change for us, after the 
weeks of desolation through which we had passed, to come to this 
self-contained city. Once the third city of Peru, with opulent man- 
sions which rivaled those of Lima, Ayacucho has now but twenty- 
five thousand inhabitants. Traffic has flowed away from it rather 
than to it and only once weekly does an airplane put down on its 
airfield. Its small electric plant, wonderfully uncertain, gives only 
enough power for a pallid light while its water supply is scarce and 
highly questionable. But the heavens are always blue; the climate, at 
its Sjoo-foot altitude, is benign and soft, with the most gentle ^air- 
tempers" of all Peru; and the people, a high percentage of whom are 


Highway of the Sun 

of pure Spanish blood, reflect the ease of the climate. Without pre- 
tense and still preserving their native wonder at the outside world, 
they are, to use an archaic term, ce full of incorruption." 

For us, now somewhat worn by our efforts to trace the Inca 
roads, Ayacucho was a haven. In the last week none of us had es- 
caped the debilitating effects of the anoxic atmosphere of the high 
altitudes from which both machine and man had taken an awful 
beating. And so our arrival in this sun-enveloped Ayacucho 
brought us a temporary surcease. 

There were changes too within our organization. Charles had 
now to return to the States on urgent private matters and it was 
time for Henrik Blohm to go back to Harvard. So until our two 
archaeologists arrived, our number was reduced to three. 

We would have liked to set up a large rambling headquarters as 
we did at Puno and Cuzco, but doing that here would mean having 
to find servants, to worry about food supplies and the care of a 
house. Instead we moved into an ancient hotel that faced the main 
plaza. Here, for the time being, we rested and on a large balcony 
that overlooked the plaza, we prepared the reports on our progress. 

Geographically we were in an important area. Although the 
Inca road did not run immediately through Ayacucho, which was 
founded as a Spanish colony in 1 540 and so was not an ancient In- 
dian site as were most of the other famous cities in Peru, it did pass 
through the dry valleys a few miles to the east. From that point it 
went on over a high, level pampas south toward little-known Vil- 
cas-huaman, sometimes spoken of as the "Sanctuary of the Hawk" 
and, so the natives assert, ec the center of the dominions of the Incas. 
For from Quito in Ecuador to Vilcas is the same distance as from 
Vilcas to Chile, these being the extreme points on the Inca Empire/' 

We lazed for some time in the subtle charm of Ayacucho. Each 
day we sat or walked in the sun, listening at midday to the cries of 
the street vendors; each evening watching religious processions pass 


The Sanctuary of the Hawk 

along streets which were a little like an Augean stable in their un- 
cleanliness. On every square was an ancient church and every other 
house, it seemed, boasted the carved doorway of a once beautiful 
mansion still offering proud escutcheons to an indifferent world. 
Ayacucho is Spanish and its people, while they still have some In- 
dian blood and speak the lisping Quechua, are primarily Spanish in 
character and in dress. The women wear long sweeping crinolines 
and broad-brimmed hats which are decorated almost as if in per- 
petual mourning with broad, black silk bands. Near Ayacucho the 
first battle of the war between the Spaniards in South America, the 
Battle of the Chupas, was fought in 1532. During our stay we 
found many records dating back to 1545 which had to do with the 
colonial life of this town, but of Inca roads and Inca ruins and of 
records immediately pertinent to our search nothing. 

The road we sought lay northeast along the I3,ooo-foot-high 
escarpment of the "Sanctuary of the Hawk/' Our task now was to 
pick up the main route of this road, and follow it back south until 
we reached fabulous Vilcas-huaman. 

This was not a vehicular route. We could go only a little of the 
way by car; the rest would have to be by mule. As we made ready 
the food and gear that were to last us a few weeks and arranged our 
small tents and warm clothes we would again be journeying over 
the puna Silvia and I found that we should be making the trek 
alone. Lawrence, our tough little Lawrence, had succumbed to 
dysentery. "We could not wait for we were hoping to escape the 
great rains and our itinerary was set. So after I had had my final in- 
structions regarding the operation of the motion picture camera 
and Silvia had made sure that we had all our provisions, we two set 
off alone to find that "geographical center of the Inca Empire." 

The ride had taken the whole of the day and was going into the 
night and the horses had been changed for the third time before 
we began to climb the last of the hills that lowered between us and 


Highway of the 

Vilcas-huaman. The sky became ominously dark and our guide set 
up a sort of litany to the effect that that which we sought was 
"far, far away." I had no sooner ordered him to cover the equip- 
ment than the rain began to fall. 

Nature created South America on a grand scale. Nothing is mod- 
erate. There is no sunset it is light and it is dark; there is a glut 
or there is scarcity; it is very dry or it is very wet. Now it was very 
wet. The rain fell in strings, looking much as one sees it in certain 
Japanese wood-block prints. We adjusted our rubber ponchos and 
for as long as we did not lift our heads we were snugly dry. The 
road, as hard as macadam, was soon transformed into a slithering 
path and the horses, nervous over the flashes of lightning, found 
their footing unsure. To add to the unpleasantness it began to hail, 
ice-stones the size of hazel nuts played a drum beat on my taut 
rubber poncho. A flash brilliant enough to light up the whole sky 
showed Silvia just ahead of me. At the next flash she was gone 
vanished. I flung myself off my horse, ran to the side of the road 
and looked into the ink-black darkness. Another flash of light- 
ning and to my utter horror I saw Silvia and her horse rolling 
down the hillside. They stopped when the horse struck a thicket; 
the horse struggled to its feet. Silvia lay unmoving. 

This was the first real catastrophe that had come our way. Our 
medicines were adequate for minor injuries but for one of major 
dimensions . . . This thought went through my mind as I stum- 
bled down the hillside to her. In a matter of minutes consciousness 
returned; she was bruised and scratched but otherwise unhurt. 
Thoroughly soaked, our hands and faces dripping globules of blood 
from the cactus spines we had plunged through, we remounted and 
rode on and up for two more hours until we reached the unlighted 
village which was supposedly the geographical center of the 

All the houses were tightly boarded up. We stopped at one house 


The Sanctuary of the Hawk 

where a candle burned feebly and asked if there was a place to 
spend the night. 

^Manan-cancba" was the answer in the darkness. 

At door after door we heard the same Quechuan phrase, "There 
isn't any"; until at last a door was unbarred and a woman held up 
an oil lamp to light the night. At the sight of Silvia, mud-splat- 
tered and wet, with a thin trickle of blood running down from a 
cut above her eye, she uttered a compassionate cry and drew us in. 
had come to the house of the head man of Vilcas-huaman. 

The high Vilcas plateau is horseshoe-shaped. The Vischongo 
River, far below, cuts around the high massif and as far as the eye 
can see; Vilcas, more than n,ooo feet above sea level, is master of 
the heights. This center of the Inca world was in every respect well 
named Vilcas-hitaman, "Sanctuary of the Hawk." Here as at Cuzco 
present-day houses are set within ancient ruins some at the 
entranceway to the Sun Temple, others built into its walls; all 
are fashioned from stones once used in the palaces of the Incas. 
Vilcas differed from the other villages we had seen in having all its 
houses of stone. There is a small plaza rimmed with towering euca- 
lyptus. In its center is now a group of cement pedestals supporting 
sculptures which a local artist has made of Peru's great men. Near 
the plaza, rising above the whole city, is the only still intact Sun 
Temple in all Peru. All about it are walls of that superbly laid 
stone, the mark of the Inca craftsman. 

It was the temple that drew us first. "We crossed a stinking open 
sewer which flowed in the middle of a cobblestone street and arrived 
at the base of a truncated pyramid 150 feet square at the base 
which rose in five tiers to a small terrace reached by a flight of cy- 
clopean steps. The massive stone doorway which faced the plaza 
was still standing, and we went through it and slowly mounted the 


Highway of the Sun 

steps which, with their high treads, made a stately and dignified 
ascent. The immense plaza, still outlined by the foundations of the 
ancient buildings, had been large enough, so it is said, to hold 
twenty thousand Indians. The ruined palace with its many wall 
niches man's height was the size of a square city block. We 
could readily understand the statement made by one of the newly 
arrived conquistadores that thousands of Indians had been in at- 
tendance on the Inca and that five hundred women alone were 
housed here to do the Lord Inca's weaving. Of this great temple 
at Vilcas, Cieza wrote: "The Sun Temple, made of very fine fitting 
stones, had two large doorways with two stairways leading to them 
with approximately thirty steps each [there were by actual count 
thirty-two]. Within the temple were the lodgings for the priest 
and guards for the Sun Virgins. . . . Much treasure was contained 
here, including a very valuable figure of the Sun God." The golden 
sun-image had long since been melted down in the crucibles of the 
conquistadores, but the seat of large stone . . . "where the Lord- 
Inca sat to view the dances and festivals," is still to be seen. Hewn 
out of a single piece of stone, it rests where it was first placed, since 
its weight alone defies movement. It was on this seat "covered with 
gold plate" that the Inca held court. 

The Sun Temple was a fine vantage place from which to view the 
diorama of the area. From it the strong outlines of the ancient walls, 
despite the sprinkling of houses, gave an excellent idea of the 
original shape and size of the plaza. Out from the two southern 
extremes of the plaza went the roads. At our backs, rising like the 
crest of Gibraltar, was the rock of Pillucho where we saw the 
ruins of the seven hundred houses where the Inca had once kept 
the supplies for his armed forces. 

Since the roads of the Inca Empire met in this plaza, we set 
about in the days that followed making an accurate plan of the 
ancient town. As often happened, the present-day houses had in 


The Sanctuary of the Hawk 

many places been built over the Inca walls. In one of these homes 
we encountered a woman who suffered from a disease the Incas 
had called uta, which had eaten away her upper lip and her nose. 
Similar disfigured faces appear on vases taken from graves on the 
desert coast of Peru. This woman with the cruel aching years of 
pain on her face, begged piteously for medicines I am still 
haunted by the thought that we could do nothing for her. In an- 
other dwelling, adjoining the Sun Temple, we found several dark- 
ened rooms. On the beaten mud floor of one were three large stones; 
under them a fire; on top, blackened earthen jars. This was a 
kitchen. Tin plates and battered cutlery were placed on boxes; food 
hung suspended from leather thongs and scraps of food thrown on 
the bare earth were being fought over by ravenous dogs. Pigs, 
chickens, children and bright-eyed guinea pigs came and went. In a 
corner a woman with surprisingly delicate features sat in the dirt 
and, near her, a dog. Mother and bitch, equally human and equally 
animal, suckled their young. 

We were amazed to discover so many comely women and blue- 
eyed people in the village, indicating the almost complete dilution 
of Indian blood. Most of the native population had been killed off 
in the earlier days of the conquest, and those Spaniards who, sur- 
viving the slaughter of the Battle of Chupas in 1542, had come to 
the remote hills about Vilcas to escape the King's justice, had mated 
with the natives and so gave them the genes which have survived 
today. Yet the language spoken is Quechua, and the people live 
much as bonded peasants lived in the time of Don Quixote. 

Once as I photographed a particularly interesting stone niche 
formed by an ingenious arrangement of cut stone, I looked up to 
see a man and a cow staring at me in vacant curiosity. The cow, 
ruminating on its cud, seemed considerably more intelligent than 
the man ruminating on his coca cud. Wherever we went, whatever 
we did, we were followed by a horde of boys and men. If, after I 


Highway of the Sun 

had opened a new film, I tossed away the empty box, there was a 
mad scramble for the possession of it. So we were followed day 
after day, through the ruins, into houses, over walls, while we stud- 
ied and measured and drew the ruins of Vilcas. 

We found and mapped the massive wall on the south side of the 
plaza, the same once described as being in ee front of the Sun Tem- 
ple" and "5 stades high." We later came upon the buildings for 
the keepers of the Sun God, "the place . . . where lived five hun- 
dred virgins dedicated to the Sun." Where the village church now 
stands must once have been the site of the palace of the Inca for 
around it we found ten-foot high niches, those false doors where 
golden-plated effigies of Inca gods were once displayed. Everything 
here the sculptured stones, many with snakes and totemic ani- 
mals, the precision of the masonry and the uniformity of the archi- 
tecture, suggested that Vilcas -huaman had been built late in the 
empire by master-masons sent from Cuzco to trace the plans and to 
teach the Indians the method of the laying of stones in the edifices* 
Vilcas-huarnan dates from around 1440, the time and reign of 
the Inca Pachacutic, the "Earth-Shaker." He came, he saw and he 
conquered the Tanquiha, who were the original inhabitants. Then, 
having depopulated the region by war, he transplanted a whole 
population of approximately two hundred thousand people. With 
these new settlers he formed the area into a large province which 
in time became one of the most important centers outside of Cuzco, 
and, as the conquests of the Incas continued to extend over the vast 
regions of South America as far north as Quito and as far south as 
Chile, the geographical center of their dominions. 

As such, Vilcas -huaman took on a mystical character. Accord- 
ingly, much attention was lavished on Vilcas and its surrounding 
areas, and Incas vied with each other in building roads leading to 
the city and from it, each road bearing the name of the ruling 
Inca, as did the Roman roads those of the Caesars. The first was 


The Sanctuary of the Hawk 

known as that of the Inca Yupanqui; a second as the Road of Topa 
Inca, who reigned 1471-1493; while a third, the Royal Road, was 
then the Road of the Huayna'Capac Inca (1527). "This last, reach- 
ing to the River Ancasmayu in the north and to the south beyond 
what we now call Chile, is so long that, one end to the other, the 
distance is over one thousand, two hundred leagues." 

Vilcas attained its greatest opulence during the reign of Huayna 
Capac, the last great Inca, who ruled about the time that Christo- 
pher Columbus was coasting along the Americas. He was "not of 
great scature, but well built, good features and much gravity; he 
was a man of few words but many deeds; a severe judge, he would 
punish without mercy. Huayna Capac wished to be so feared that 
the people would dream of him at night . . /' 

This man of "few words but many deeds" in that fateful year of 
1498 was making ready to visit the kingdoms to the north and so 
gathered an army of two hundred thousand soldiers to accompany 
him. First, his soothsayers consulted the oracles, offered up sacrifices 
to the Sun God, brought out the great chain of gold to encircle the 
plaza and held therein drinking bouts and dances. Then the cap- 
tains received their appointments near to the "Stone of War" 
and that being accomplished, "the Inca set out from Cuzco with 
his whole army and journeyed along a road as grand and as wide 
as we now behold it." 

This same Lord Inca "ordered that there should be made a road 
more royal, more grand and wider than his father's and to extend 
all the way to Quito, whither he intended to go. . . ." All the 
storehouses and the tampus were by order filled with food for the 
royal trek, and so he marched north "until he arrived at Vilcas- 
huaman, where he rested ... in the buildings which had been 
erected for him near to those of his father." Under construction 
for more than a half century, these were about completed. Huayna 
Capac rejoiced to see the Sun Temple was finished, and giving gold 


Highway of the Sun 

and silver ingots to the governor, he ascended the high steps to the 
beautiful terrace which had been especially prepared for him. Then, 
greatly pleased with what he saw, he took part in the sacrifices to 
propitiate the gods. This being done he set out from Vilcas with his 
army . . ." 

Once our work in Vilcas was done, we set off southward to find 
the road and link it up with the parts we had missed when we had 
made a roundabout trip by way of the vehicular road. We took the 
Cuzco road which left from the southeast side of the square. Once 
the Lord Incas had come this way in panoplied processions of power 
and magnificence. The scene was now quite different. Villagers 
coming in heavily laden from the fields doffed their grayish mush- 
room-shaped hats as we went by. But we were intent on the road, 
now in an appalling state of disrepair, seeking to avoid the many 
loosened stones. 

On the highest knoll of the now naked land lay the remains of 
Pillau-ccasi, an ancient control gate and ruins of the garrison guard 
stations that had once been placed on either side of the road. The 
common Indian of those days had a limited geographical orbit. His 
needs were few and the Inca rulers saw to it that he moved on this 
Royal Road only with permission. These control gates were the 
check-points to see that the general prohibition was obeyed. 

From this point, too, we could make out the course taken by 
another road, the coast-bound highway which had left from the 
southwest side of the plaza in Vilcas. Like the Royal Road, it was 
twenty-four feet wide and marked with a low wall of stones and it, 
too, had at the same distance from Vilcas a control point and a 
small garrison house to control travel over the road. 

The way continued empty and cold. The halcyon sky had kept 
its earlier promise of a clear day but the wind, rushing down from 


The Sanctuary of the Hawk 

some eternally glaciered peak, was as biting as a wintry north wind. 
At high noon as we rested we were joined by two condors. One of 
our Indians, stretched out on the roadside trying to catch some- 
thing of the warmth of the sun, first drew their attention. Ignoring 
us, the great birds came down with a rush of sound, passed over the 
horses, startling one of them almost off the road, and made full for 
the reclining figure. Whether or not they would have attacked is 
questionable but at the sound of the swishing pinions, the intended 
victim came to life. Vigorously he waved his hat and the condors, 
with only the slightest movement of their wings, soared up, riding 
the wind currents at an astounding speed. They followed us hope- 
fully through a good part of that day. 

As our visible road continued to march across the barren puna 
we never ceased to marvel at the audacity of Inca engineering. The 
section we were now on is no longer used by the muleteers. The dan- 
gerous passages over the stone steps, no hazard for foot-traveling 
Indians and the nimble-footed llamas, is not for horses or mules, 
whose iron shoes can find no purchase on the stone steps. From here 
forward was the most perilous part of the road- journey, one we 
thought best to negotiate during the day. 

At the little village of Contay we halted and set up our camp. 
The mounts were unsaddled, fettered and turned out to graze in the 
spare greensward and the Indians rolled themselves up in their 
ponchos and nestled between odoriferous horse blankets. Nearby 
we set up our tent. With our air mattresses and arctic sleeping bags, 
we made ready for the arrival at midnight of ice-laden winds blow- 
ing at a high velocity. From our supplies we made a tomato bisque 
from dehydrated tomato flakes and dried milk, then charqui, a dish 
made of sun-dried llama meat diced into rice which we seasoned 
highly. To top this off, we had a hot buttered rum and we were 
ready for the night tales of the guide we had brought from Vilcas. 


Highway of the Sun 

He had ridden these ancient trails since boyhood, had followed them 
throughout in the frigid area of the province of Soras, 1 and, being 
of perspicacious curiosity, he had climbed every crag which might 
hold Inca ruins. He had been, he confessed, a rifler of tombs and 
he told of the many ancient pieces he had dug out and the gold that 
he had found, some of which was now, so he said proudly, in muse- 
ums outside the country. That is how he knew of the Capac-Nan 
road and as he thought back to his wandering through the Soras 
country, he enumerated for us the villages through which the Road 

So he too joined the ranks of those whose travels added greatly to 
our knowledge of the ancient highway. 

In 1533 Pedro Sancho, the official scrivener to the Spanish con- 
quest, in describing the descent that we were now undertaking, 
made what we considered an understatement of considerable enor- 
mity when he wrote: ". . . and although the journey [between 
Vilcas and Uran-marca] was short, it was laborious since we had to 
descend a mountain all the way, the road consisting almost entirely 
of stone steps." 

I counted close to a thousand of these descending arpeggios of 
stone steps before, forced to concentrate on my footing, I lost 
count. Yet judging each tread to be over a foot in height, our zig- 
zag way went down a drop of two thousand feet. There must have 
been at least three thousand consecutive stone steps. The distance 
was, as Don Pedro had said, "short," but it was a truly astonishing 

1 About this Soras de Leon said that "the river Vilcas rises in the 
province .of Soras which is very fertile and inhabited by a warlike race. 
They [Soras] and the people of Lucanas speak one language and go about 
dressed in woolen cloaks. They possessed large flocks of llamas and in their 
country are rich mines of gold and silver. The Incas esteemed the Soras 
and Lucanas so highly that their lands were favored and the sons of their 
chieftains resided at the court in Cuzco." 


The Sanctuary of the Hawk 

piece of engineering. Being all dry masonry, this necessitated elabo- 
rate terracing with retaining walls for which the rock had to be 
carried some distance before it could be faced and worked. It was 
in this realm of astonishments one of the most extraordinary of 
these amazing roads. 

Francisco Pizarro and his small army, bent on the conquest of 
Cuzco, took this road in 1533, but long before his advent un- 
counted thousands of Indians had swept back and forth over it. Still 
to be seen are the turn-outs where the palanquin-bearers carrying 
their chieftains would rest on the upward or downward inclines of 
the step-road. 

As we circled down into the valley, the heat rising out of the 
chasm grew furnace-hot and Silvia began to peel off sweater after 
sweater. The land was desertlike with tall organo-cactus growing out 
of rock and coarse gravel and thorny mimosalike plants making the 
air fragrant with their scent. The hot wind came up like a sirocco. 
Again we experienced the extremes of this extreme land. Wakening 
in arctic cold and snow, long before high noon we were broiling in 
the sun. Ahead of us we heard our Indians crying out to their ani- 
mals as they slid down the royal stairway to the floor of the valley. 

In late September at the height of the dry season the Pampas 
River, now only a stream, meandered all over the wide sandbed, 
but sheer cliffs and high dark stains fifty feet above the riverbed 
gave concrete evidence that the Pampas was showing us only one 
aspect of its character. 

At Pucara near to the chasm there was a fortress. Time has 
claimed it and only a few stones mark it. Below at the river's edge, 
a bridge once hung suspended, the largest in all Peru after the great 
one of San Luis Rey. 

On our side toward Vilcas we found no sign of this bridge, which 
the rampaging river has long since destroyed. But at Pariabamba 
where we forded the Pampas, we came to the remains of the im- 


Highway of the Sun 

mense towers from which the cables of the bridge had been sus- 
pended. "Here/' stated Cieza, "the great river called Vilcas [the 
Pampas] is crossed. On each side of the river there are very large 
stone pillars made very strong and with very deep foundations. 
From these pillars a bridge of cables ... is slung across the river. 
These cables are so strong, and the bridge is so strong, that horses 
may pass over with loosened rein as if they were crossing the bridge 
of Cordova in Spain. The bridge was one hundred and sixty-six 
paces long when I passed over it/' 

The conquistador-scrivener Sancho who had not perhaps the 
same eye for accuracy wrote that when the Spaniards passed it, 
in 1534, it was 360 Spanish feet long and wide enough for two 
horses to pass abreast on it. There was no doubt that these towers 
were the remains of that bridge, all that now is left to mark the 
site. 2 

Uran-marca, the Inca post-stop on the Royal Road which fur- 
nished the Indian laborers to maintain the bridge, lay ahead and 
above us. It was but four miles away, up about 3000 feet, a climb 
as perpendicular as the one we had just descended. Through my 
binoculars the rustic stonework of the ruins was plainly visible. 

The place was, according to our chroniclers, a village of trans- 
planted people, the result of the Incas' policy of population trans- 
ference. Wherever there was need for a large labor group to service 
the road, its tampns and its suspension bridges, whose rope cables 

2 The bridge must have survived for at least a century after the con- 
quest in 1599, for Poma de Ayala noted in his record: "Oran-marca; vil- 
lage: royal post, and the largest bridge in all these kingdoms called the 
litter of cables,' built by the Inca Yahuar Huacac." 

If this statement is true and the bridge was built by the sixth Inca, it 
would have been there in the year 1290. This Inca "was very quiet and 
very cautious and very peaceful," so the legends say. "He always had bad 
eyes and they were so red that, by exaggeration, his people said that he 
wept blood, and for this reason they called him Yahuar Huacac, the 
Bloody Weeper/* 


The Sanctuary of the Hawk 

were renewed every two years, the Inca simply moved people into 
the hiatus. So the Inca had said, "Let there be a city/ 5 and on a high 
plateau, devoid of man and plants, there was a city. 

I was eager to visit Uran-marca but when I made a move in that 
direction I encountered open rebellion. The animals would not stir; 
the Indians said flatly they would not go; one guide said equally 
firmly that he would await our return; and Silvia, who had cheer- 
fully climbed every mountain crag for six months, announced that 
she would "sit this one out." I looked at the heights, briefly con- 
templated doing it on foot, and then I too surrendered. 

It would take all our energy to go back over the step-road to 
Vile as. 

Once more back in Vilcas-huaman village we waited for the 
cessation of the broad loom of the rains which had transformed 
every rill into a plunging torrent. Meanwhile we rested from our 
last trek, occupied ourselves by excavating the walls about the Sun 
Temple and planning our next project, the search for the forgotten 
ruins of Pomacocha. 

On the first clear day as we stood on the Temple of the Sun, 
glasses in hand, the rays of the morning sun fell full on a small tarn 
which in the distance lay in what seemed to be the bottom of a vol- 
cano. When I pointed the lake out to our guide, he shook his head; 
there was only one Pomacocha, a colonial hacienda which, until 
their expulsion, was operated by the Jesuits. As for there being an 
Inca ruin at Pomacocha, he who had ridden everywhere in these 
mountains would have known it. We would be wasting precious 
time were we to look for one out there. 

Our records were extremely vague at this point. It was only that 
I remembered reading somewhere that during the civil wars in 
i 542, when the conquistadores fought over the golden swag of the 


Highway of the Sun 

fallen Inca Empire, one group had "marched to Pomacocha, a 
strong position." At that time the Spaniards had little time for 
building and so when they "took over a stronghold," it could only 
have been an Inca-built redoubt. I looked at Silvia. Having been 
through the treadmill of these travels, she had earned the right to 
say whether we should take on additional burdens at the moment. 
She nodded: "On to Pomacocha." 

On our way back down the eroded hill which we had ascended in 
rainy darkness, we had a look at the country that we had not seen 
then. Although the hills were bare, the hollows and small valleys 
had once been well settled. Ruins of chapels scattered about sug- 
gested the opulent power of the Jesuits who had once held so much 
of Peru that they had become, in effect, bankers to the State. Now 
these chapels, built in the eighteenth-century baroque style, had 
become nightstalls for wandering burros and cows. Presently we 
met a horseman coming toward us who so we discovered after 
an exchange of irrelevancies was the manager of the hacienda 
of Pomacocha. On hearing of our mission, he shook his head dole- 
fully. "There is nothing, gringo, but horrible Indians, horrible 
women and horrible weather," The hacienda, he said, had been 
built by the Jesuits in 1737 and had only ruins of their buildings 
on it. There was nothing Inca there. On that negative interchange 
we parted company. A bit farther on, we pushed through a flock of 
sheep to cross a small colonial bridge spanning the river and entered 
the one-time hacienda of the Jesuits. The approach, arched over by 
immense trees, shadowed the entrance to an old mill. Within, pow- 
ered by a water flume, ancient millstones turned ceaselessly grinding 
the wheat which Indian women poured into the timeworn funnels. 
Above the door was the legend C ANO 1750." 

The hacienda was eighteenth century, and the buildings re- 


The Sanctuary of the Haiuk 

fleeted the century squat, massive and thatched with grass. The 
courtyard was impressive and around it the buildings preserved that 
air of authority which had made the Jesuit well regarded as a colo- 
nist. On the verge of admitting defeat, I bent over an aqueduct 
which conveyed a rushing stream of water to the well. There I saw 
the work of the Inca granite stone, shaped as only the Indian 
masons shaped it, lined the flume. Next we found a lintel fashioned 
of the same stone, and then a stairway. Similar stones were em- 
bedded in the houses, in the courtyard. 

We stayed at the hacienda no longer than decorum allowed and 
soon we were riding off in the direction of the lake we had seen 
from Vilcas. We left the path and took off on a little-used trail 
and so soon left the small houses of the hacienda behind us. Within 
minutes we found ourselves going up what was left of an ancient 
road which, unlike any other road we had seen, was at least forty- 
five feet wide. Impressive even in its ruined state, it seemed to sweep 
down toward the river in a direct line with the Jesuit hacienda, 
which we could still see buried under the gloom of trees. 

We rode up the broken lip of an upthrust mountain which had 
evidently once been a volcano, and from the top we looked down 
on the lake in its hollow. At one end was a dam, the workmanship 
of which was eighteenth century probably erected by the Jesuit 
engineers to provide the water which turned the millstones. Near to 
the lagoon we set up our camp and then we were off to learn what 
we could of Pomacocha. 

The tarn, a roughly formed figure eight, was quite shallow; cows 
were wading in its center, munching the tall tot or a grass. Swim- 
ming about, completely indifferent to us, were ducks and mud-hens 
and white herons, while crimson-winged flamingos walked with 
dignity in the short grasses. At the first sight, there was nothing. 
Only squat trees covered the shore. Then as we slowly and meticu- 


Highway of the Sun 

lously moved our binoculars over the terrain, we saw the remains of 
ancient buildings. We had found the ruins of Pomacocha! 

That this had been a sacred lagoon we felt certain by the end of 
that first day, for here was a sanctuary on which the Inca Kings 
had evidently lavished much care. Nowhere outside of the Cuzco 
area had we seen such magnificent stonework nor such precision in 
fitting together irregularly shaped stones in accordance with their 
natural contours. Smaller stones combined with large ones were so 
interlocked that the walls were actually a stone mosaic, a lasting 
testimonial to the builders' extraordinary feeling for the aesthetic 
quality of the texture of stone. The amazingly compact palace pro- 
jecting slightly into the edge of the lake rested on a solid stone base 
extending below it into the water. Back toward the high cliffs was 
a series of formal squares. We kept climbing over enormous two- 
ton ashlars cut in the form of isosceles triangles over six feet in 
length. These monoliths must indeed have been a part of some un- 
usual structure, for we had not before met with this peculiar type 
of cut stone. Unfortunately there was nothing left now except an 
immense desolation of fallen masonry. As we mapped the ruins for 
the first time Pomacocha has never been listed in archaeological 
records we found another well-preserved wall complete with 
mural niches and doorways. Our Indians who had followed us curi- 
ously from rock to rock were now put to work excavating and 
sinking test pits. 

That Pomacocha had been sacrosanct was further confirmed by 
our discovery of a twenty-foot high, free-standing rock of equal 
diameter. The sides, hewn and cut, were formed of stones carefully 
chamfered into the rock mass and so skillfully that we could not 
at first distinguish which were man -laid and which living stones. 
Mounting a stone stairway Silvia found that she was standing on 
another of those ancient Inti-huatanas sacred as c< Hitching-Places- 
of-the-Sun." The top had been flattened and in the center was the 

The Sanctuary of the Hawk 

remains of a meter-high gnomon, much like the one we had seen 
earlier at Pisac. These were used by the Inca necromancers to deter- 
mine "which days were long and which were short and when the 
sun departed and returned/' There are several o these sun clocks 
in Peru but only this one lies outside of the immediate Cuzco area. 

The ruins themselves were voiceless. We found at Pomacocha no 
"talking stones" such as are found among the Maya ruins where 
hieroglyphs have been found on stone stela, on walls, on steps, on 
lintels, on pieces of shell, on jade and in folder books. Nor was 
there here anything to suggest the rebus writing of the Aztec nor 
even the pictographs used so effectively by the North American 
Plains Indians. No form of writing, no matter how much scholars 
have strained their imaginations, has ever come to light in the 
Andean area. We have only a verbal history of the Inca, transmitted 
by professional "rememberers" with the aid of the knotted quipit, 
cords and these, however, ingenious, were only aids for the memory. 
The history of the ancient people of Peru is dependent on chronicles 
written by the early Spaniards, on the priest-chroniclers who ma- 
nipulated the things they heard and saw in the last days of the Inca 
Empire to fit their own theology, and on the story told by the Inca 
ruins. In Vile as we had found pottery in many places which told 
us many things the styles, what tribes had passed that way and 
so on. But at Pomacocha we found not a shard. 

At the end of the lagoon where the water formed one of the 
rounded circles of the figure eight lay an outjutting of the moun- 
tain up which the stone -laid terraces climbed like gigantic stepping- 
stones. At its pinnacle was another structure which, like those in 
the plaza, was made of the finest stonework. Below, where the can- 
yons formed a gully, we came across the ruins of a stone aqueduct 
which led us to a stiperbly laid fountain or bath. This structure 
which could have held fifteen people at a single time and was, we 
judged, the place where the Inca made his ablutions had been 


Highway of the Sun 

built around a large rock which had been hewn until squared. The 
stones had been set into the living rock and in the nature of organic 
architecture the whole reached upward out of the foundation into 
the light. It was a delight to see. 

When we crossed to the other side of the lake at the waist of the 
figure eight we found the remains of what must have been the 
tampu or the temporary night-stop for those making the mecca to 

What was Pomacocha? And why had so beautiful a ruin not 
previously been visited or mentioned? There was nothing here to 
point the way to us, only the mute tale of the broken buildings. 
Not one of the historical companions of our long journey had ever 
mentioned it except to say that Pomacocha had a "strong position." 

Silvia's protests about being dragged out betimes into the Andean 
cold just to see the rising sun could have been heard across the quiet 
tarn. It was still dark as we picked our way across the fallen ma- 
sonry of Pomacocha, The night had been frigid, a real winter night, 
and the dawning day still held the chill; fog hung over the lagoon 
and gave the sky a leaden look. This little world at the moment was 
almost empty of sound and the sudden baleful chirping of some 
protesting nestlings hidden in the lake-rushes sounded as startling 
in the silence as would a clarion voice. Silvia's remarks were both 
loud and pointed. She had worked late on drafting the plans of 
Pomacocha, she had climbed, measured, carried gear about for days; 
she saw no reason why, just to prove a theory, she should have to 
rise in the arctic dawn; ee we were not Siamese twins"; and so she 
went on, her outraged words flailing at me until we stood again atop 
the great rock. 

And then the sun , . . We were approaching the time of the 
autumnal equinox, and as the light of the rising sun fell across the 


The ^ancillary of the Hawk 

Hitching Place of the Sun the lagoon was bathed in a brilliant 
golden metallic sheen. This then was what Pomacocha or more 
correctly Puman-chochan, Lake of the Lion really was: a sacred 
lake which received the sun. As we stood there we felt something 
of the orphic feeling that all this must have evoked in the Incas. 
For a brief moment the place seemed to echo to the sound of the 
Inca walking in measured tread behind his Amauta, his Keepers of 
the Sun, while they, carrying the earth-mysteries in the garments of 
their ritual, slowly approached the rock. 

There was a poignant beauty in these overturned stones and en- 
during fragments of walls. Was it the symmetry of the stone and 
its patterns, or was it the balance that made it so beautiful? We 
could not say why it stirred us. We only knew that it did. I have 
only a moderate confidence in metaphysical formulae. I believe that 
we shall never know exactly why a thing is beautiful. But these 
ruins had a beauty apart from their connection with the vanished 
people who built them. 

Who then had destroyed this beauty? These immense stones did 
not fall alone by the weight of years. The fact that the Jesuits used 
some of them in the construction of their own "kingdom of God" 
pointed the finger of suspicion at them. Many sacred Inca places, 
such as Pomacocha, survived the conquest, and the native religion 
which had been worshipped in such shrines did not die it went 
underground. The Indians worshipped the hills, the springs, the 
lakes, the rocks. The failure to Christianize the Indians had led in 
the seventeenth century to a great witch hunt when the padres, 
who found some six hundred important idols still being worshipped, 
destroyed them and burned more than six thousand Indians at the 

"Whatever can be burned," said the priests who directed this 
extirpation of idolatry, ct is burned, and what cannot be burned is 
broken." It was wantonly effective and complete. By 1660 the 


High-way of the Snn 

Catholicization of the Inca's people had been achieved. But in re- 
mote spots the pagan rites lingered, and in such inaccessible places 
as Pomacocha, the step road built by the Incas in this region was too 
severe a test for Spanish horses and so the King's Highway was 
put elsewhere and the Indians were left long undisturbed to wor- 
ship the Sun. 

Today we know no more than that the Jesuits with their clerico- 
military organization came here early in the eighteenth century, 
probably destroyed the sacred city around the Lake of the Lion and 
then used the tumbled stone for their own buildings. The rest, since 
there are no records, is silence. 

It was the dark of another dawn when we mounted the old Inca 
road and put out toward Ayacucho. We zigzagged up an immense 
hill on the rim of the crater that held the sacred lake and by the 
time the sun had again taken command of the earth we were on its 
very top. The lake seemed now like burnished copper, broken only 
by the flight of the egrets and flamingos over its surface. As we 
turned our mounts back onto the Inca road, the ruins were sud- 
denly aflame, and our last look at Pomacocha showed us the sun's 
rays were again falling across its Hitching Place. 

1 60 

The Highway of the Sun 

1 HE Mantaro River is shaped something like a fishhook. Unlike 
other rivers which slowly emerge from out o inoffensive trickling 
rills and in descending becomes a fury of rushing waters, this one 
leaps into being fullborn where it comes out of the ice-fringed 
Chinchay [ Junin] lake. Drawing the run-off of rain from the plen- 
teous punas through which it flows, the Mantaro becomes, within 
fifty miles, less a river than a gargantuan earth-moving force which 
has gouged out a canyon so deep that it does not allow man to har- 
ness it for his benefit. It is useless alike to nature and man. So the 
Mantaro must, like unreasonable weather, be endured. Yet the In- 
cas refused to endure it they avoided it. Since they did not have 
the wheel and their means of travel were not those of the modern 
world, they laid their communication system above it and out of 
harm's way. 

We however could not escape it. At this point in our journey, we 
were alas bound to the modern highway which here has been 
cut alongside of the canyon-edge of the Mantaro, making it the 
most dangerous in all Peru. One hundred and fifty miles out of 
Chinchay Lake the river makes a fishhook turn to race east to 
join with another turbulent river and so form the upper Ama- 
zon. Just at the point where the hook makes the twist and becomes 
the sharpened barb on which it pinions nature and man, there were 
we, hung quite literally for a few dreadful moments on the edge 


Highway of the Sun 

of Mantaro. Suspended between safety and disaster, one half of the 
Power Wagon dangled over the canyon while the other half still 
rested on the so-called road. Almost everything in the way of Ex- 
pedition gear we had was in the truck. Charts, maps, notes, plans, 
photographs, equipment and our hopes; all the months of climb- 
ing and searching recorded in our written reports all this now 
hung there on the edge of the abyss. 

The mind performs strangely in times of stress. To escape ten- 
sions, it ofttimes digs up the most ironical elements of the human 
comedy. Now I wondered how I would act when the truck finally 
broke away from its temporary moorings and crashed two hundred 
feet down into the canyon, carrying to irrevocable destruction all 
our work. Would I smile at life's foibles, as did Isaac Newton when 
his dog Diamond upset a candlestick and reduced in a minute all 
his years of work? "Would I say, "Well, let us make another start," 
as did Thomas Carlyle when his manuscript of The French Revolu- 
tion was mistakenly thrown in the fire? I did not know. As the 
drowning man is thought to parade all the events of his life before 
him, with devilish insistence on alternatives and an excoriating 
examination of the * c if's," my mind quickly reviewed my most re- 
cent decision regarding the Expedition's route. 

Back at the Bridge of Mayoc, for example, should I have taken a 
mule and followed one of the branches of the forkway where it di- 
vided, one part to go up the 3Ooo-foot-high east bank and the other 
along the west bank? Did I do right by allowing that Lilliputian - 
sized Peruvian, a new addition to our party, to undertake and alone, 
the survey of the east road? Should I not have heeded Silvia's warn- 
ing that we should delay at Mayoc until the threat of rain had abated 
over the Mantaro? We had managed to follow the Inca roads to the 
river's banks. It would have been foolish for us to try to cover both 
parts of the diverging roads, since to do so would have meant mule- 

The Highway of the Sun 

train travel for at least two months and why not let our young 
Peruvian win his explorer's spurs? I alone had believed that it would 
be best to set up headquarters in distant Huancayo and from there 
work backwards. Yet the Devil is also a logician. The others 
thought we should not defy the Mantaro, that we should break up 
our equipment and place some of it in hired trucks rather than risk 
it all in our own Power Wagon. This I had opposed, believing we 
should advance intact, like a complete military caravan entering 
into the country of the enemy* 

At first there had been no portent in the sky other than the sun. 
But we had scarcely passed the guard check-point, where because 
of the narrow road traffic is regulated, when the sky darkened and 
it began to rain. Within two hours, so heavy was the downpour 
that we traveled a road streaming water. Above us were sheer walls* 
of mud and stone rising two thousand feet; below us, two hundred 
feet down, was the rampaging Mantaro. Had an Inca engineer pro- 
posed the building of such a road, his life would have been forfeit. 
Inca roads were built so as to exclude all water. Water was the de- 
termining factor in their every move and knowing that a road 
along the canyon edge of the Mantaro could not be maintained, the 
Incas had split their road at Mayoc, where once hung a suspended 
bridge, and had flung their step road up the opposite sides to the 
high puna. From that point they had built it across the rolling 

Any idea of drainage on the part of those who cut this modern 
vehicular road was totally lacking. "Water poured down from the 
towering cliffs onto it, washing immense chunks of it into the river, 
while wooden bridges that spanned the larger rills were left hang- 
ing on hope and air. It was a diurnal nightmare. 

In the smaller car ahead, Silvia swung deftly around a fallen 
avalanche of earth and stone. I, not seeing it in time, threw the 
truck into low double transmission and plowed like a tank through 


Highway of the Sun 

the obstruction. Ahead I heard a dull roar, like the sound a great 
tree makes when the ax bites into its heartwood: a splintering, 
rasping sound. Silvia had just cleared another danger spot when an 
earth-mass fell into the road and I, torn between taking the brunt 
of it and avoiding it, turned the wheels quickly toward the em- 
bankment. The car lurched to a stop. Lawrence, who rode with me, 
was out of the Power Wagon with incredible speed. Enmeshed in 
the gears, I did not find it so easy to free myself. Once we were 
both out, we quickly lashed the front axle, knowing it would avail 
little if the weighted truck moved downward. Then we unwound 
the steel cable of the winch and secured it to an enormous free- 
standing rock. 

Three wheels of the truck were still on the road. The left rear 
wheel and a good part of the body hung over the cliff. Since the 
winch was to do the work rather than the wheels, that meant that 
one of us would have to get back in the truck to start the engine 
and shift the gears to the winch motor. Lawrence elected to bell the 
cat. He was lithe and small enough to free himself, so he said, 
should the truck begin its death-fall. But even the motor con- 
spired against us: it would not start and the roadbed meanwhile 
kept falling away in chunks. At last Lawrence managed to throw 
the gear into place and, as he did so, he leaped to safety. The truck 
lurched dangerously but the cable held and now it was slowly 
inched forward. I did not breathe. A whole lifetime passed in that 
five minutes as slowly the truck was pulled forward until all four 
wheels rested on firm ground. As soon as I was breathing again, I 
reached into the forward chamber of the truck and took out a 
bottle of rum. nc Splice the main brace," I ordered. 

We arrived, days later, at Izcu-chaca, having traveled a distance 
of but forty-five miles. Where a graceful colonial Spanish bridge 


The Highway of the Sun 

curves over the Mantaro gorge, a second river, the Angoyaco, joins 
it; and here, over a writhing, twisting torrent just below the Span- 
ish bridge, the Inca had once hung another suspension bridge. Here 
too we found ourselves at last on the Highway of the Sun, the main 
road of the Inca system. 

So we traveled on day after day, our caravan keeping to the 
modern dirt road until we could find a place to leave the trucks, 
then we would double back by foot until we found the Inca road 
again. It was a laborious business this incessant climbing, this 
following of and photographing the road. 

The wear and tear of these passing months had had its effect on 
each of us. Silvia had become a seasoned explorer with a sound 
knowledge of the geography and a firm grasp of the problems of 
the road that were real factors in our success* She asked as a 
woman no special consideration; she went everywhere, and her 
drawings of the architectural features of the road were invaluable. 
Lawrence made no compromise with geography or altitude; he 
never allowed his camera out of his hand and though he angered us 
frequently by his insistence on thoroughness and was a martinet in 
his lens-world, his film footage grew handsomely with the passing 
months. In all the time we traveled through one of the most terri- 
fying terrains in this world, he never lost a roll of film nor was 
one spoiled by injudicious delay. 

We were a team now, often working with irritation, but -work- 
ing. Every evening when we were not climbing or measuring roads 
and ruins I was at my reports, and once monthly I sent off my dis- 
patch to the New York Times. Often there were the newsletters 
written to acquaint our colleagues and friends with accounts of 
our daily progress; and there were always other letters to be an- 
swered, reports to be made on each new-found ruin, and the con- 
stant irritation of putting down our mounting expenses. The days 

Highway of the Sun 

were so exhaustingly filled that often before the stars completely 
commanded the heavens we were asleep. 

Farther along, the high marching cliffs of the Mantaro dissolved 
into a valley and we came to the little village of Marcavalle. This 
was the first village in the Jauja-Huancayo valley area, and it was 
here that the two Inca roads which had split one hundred miles 
southward at Mayoc, to take to the puna above the Mantaro Can- 
yon, joined and became the wide Highway of the Sun. 

We stopped at a wayside inn where Indians came to slake their 
thirst with chicha, a grayish fermented-corn drink. I had hoped 
that about this time we should have some word of our young 
Peruvian who was still somewhere in the hills tracing out the east 
wing of the Inca road, but there was no sign of him. So, after 
leaving instructions with an old Indian woman who smilingly 
showed us her single tooth, we again took to the road and in an 
enveloping gray dust we bore down upon Huancayo. 

That night, too exhausted to eat, I fell asleep betimes under the 
portrait of Andrew Carnegie which hangs in the rooms of the old 
Carnegie Research Station. / Vi * 

Huancayo is one of the largest cities in Peru, Every Sunday the 
largest and most colorful markets in all the Andes are held there, 
strung along the Inca road which here stretches to three times its 
original width. In this present-day Andean market the Indians, as 
they had in other times, put up their stalls where the things of their 
earth are sold. We followed the Indians to the market early one 
Sunday morning shortly after our arrival, walking along the 
modern highway which rests on the King's Highway, which in 

1 66 

The Highway of the Sun 

turn stands on the road of the Incas. There is no telling how many 
come to Huancayo on fair days but at such times the Royal Road 
of the Incas literally swarms with people. 

If he Jauja-Huancayo Valley, fifty miles long, is approximately 
the geographical center of Peru. It is now and always has been an 
important self-contained valley and a strategic one. On a direct 
line with Jauja, and scarcely one hundred miles away, lies Pacha- 
camac on the shore of the Pacific. The mecca for most of ancient 
Peru and the site of the oracle of the creator-god Pacha-camac, it 
was one hour's journey from the valley as the condor flies, three 
days as the Indian walked. 

To the east of the valley and relatively close were the montana 
and the jungles. The valley, controlled by the Huanca tribes, was 
once defended on all sides by towering hills topped with fortresses. 
"Even now," wrote Cieza in 1 548, "they appear, to one seeing them 
from a distance, like towers of Spain." 

We reached Jauja within an hour's dusty ride from Huancayo, 
traveling over the route of the Inca road. Where the Mantaro 
River leaves the valley to begin its passage through its gorge, there, 
surrounded by hills covered with moldering ruins, lies old Jauja. 
The ancient fortresses had once belonged to the Wankas, a fierce 
little people whose houses, built as "rounded fortresses of stone, 
were like small castles/' 

It was this tribe, "field guardians" the Incas called them, that 
for a time effectively blocked the Incas' northern conquest. Al- 
though the Inca sought through his ambassadors to induce them to 
"embrace his friendship . . . without his having to get it by mak- 
ing war," the Wankas, faced with an offer of absorption or extinc- 
tion, chose extinction. And in the great battle which followed, the 
Incas conquered and forthwith adopted the survivors into their 
kingdom, imposing upon them Inca religion and techniques but 

Highway of the Sun 

permitting them to keep their own customs and language. And so 
Jauja became the Inca capital of Chinchay-suyu, one of the quarters 
of the Inca world. 

Even though today a modern highway runs through the town 
and there is a railroad station on the outskirts, the outlines of the 
original town are still visible. In the rubble is part of an Inca wall 
and the old church stands on the site of the Sun Temple, once a 
structure three tiers high of worked stone with stairways and thick 
straw roofs. Near to it was the Temple of the Virgins. 

We walked among the walls, gathering potsherds and trying to 
reconstruct the ancient city from the piles of amorphous stones. 
Nowhere was there any sign of the onetime grandeur of this, the 
first capital of Peru. All we know of it is in the records. On Fran- 
cisco Pizarro's march southward to Cuzco in November 1534, we 
found the following notation: "In the city of Santa de Hatun 
Jauja, this twentieth and ninth day of November, 1534, the very 
noble lords found the city . . .** 

In the valley north of Jauja where the eroded limestone hills 
command the view, we again found the Royal Road. Built across 
the flat puna,, twenty-four feet wide and bound by crumbling 
walls, it was a joy to follow. For the first time in five hundred miles 
we were able to make a leisurely tour of the highway without be- 
ing subjected to an exhausting scaling of the heights. It was only 
when the road mounted an obstructing hill in broad low-stepped 
treads it was always the Incas* way to mount obstacles rather 
than avoid them that we had to make a detour in the trucks 
over the vehicular dirt road until we could take to the ancient road 

Since the modern road turned and twisted to provide the same 
gradient which the Inca provided by steps, when we came upon it 
next we were on a higher pampa. My first sight of it from a little 
distance away showed that the direction had changed radically 

1 68 

The Highway of the Sun 

the road now ran northeast rather than northwest as it had when 
we had left it. This puzzled us for, generally speaking, the Incas 
built their roads with directional straightness. It was Silvia who 
gave us the first indication of the truth. When we reached the road, 
we found it going over a rise in a series of large steps. There was 
something unusual about this section of the road. 

"Look/' said Silvia, who was pacing the width in long strides, 
"this road is forty-five feet wide." 

"But how . . ." 

"Either the Royal Road became much wider after we last were 
on it or this is another road. Do you suppose we have found their 
military road?" 

From the top of a hill we had full view of the valley stretched 
out northward. At the base of the hill was one road and this, since 
it was the regulation twenty-four feet in width, was without doubt 
the Royal Road. Following it through our binoculars, we saw that 
it went along the valley floor frequently passing over bare stone, 
its rock-balustrades fully marked, its plainly visible steps conform- 
ing to the rise and fall of the escarpment until it appeared on the 
continuing pampa. There we could see the remains of a building 
and there the road divided. Forming a V junction, the Royal Road 
kept to its directional straightness while the second road veered a 
full fifteen degrees to the east. From this distance it seemed twice 
as wide as the other. We stared fascinated at what we saw. Could 
this be . . . ? 

I thumbed through the sheath of notes we had along until I 
found a copy of a report on the Inca roads, dated 1543, entitled 
The Ordering of the Halting Stations [Tampus] : The distance of 
one to the other y the methods of the native carriers and the obliga- 
tion of the respective Spanish overlords of said tambos: done in 
Cuzco the ^ist of May, 1543* Tins was the first Spanish report on 
the Inca highway and the first road regulations ever made in all the 


Highway of the Sun 

Americas. "Due," it read, "to the serious depopulation of natives 
at said halting -stations called tambos, and the empty untraveled 
roads both in the mountains and the plains and the excessive cargos 
the Indians are forced to carry and the large journeys that are 
forced on them and the bad state of repair into which the highway 
had fallen . . ." and so on for some fifty pages. A commission 
sometime earlier had been formed to look into the state of the road 
and this, its official report, described the direction of the road and 
mentioned many of the halting places. Then we read: "Now make 
note that from the tambo of Jauja, there are two roads the one 
parting here for Huanuco and the city of the frontier, Chacha- 
poyas . . ." 

The large maps of the American Geographical Society were un- 
folded. We traced the Inca road to Huanuco, a hundred miles to the 
north, then on to the right bank of the Rio Marafion, one of the 
longest tributaries of the Amazon. Far, far beyond, in the high 
mountains on its right bank, at the very edge of the deep green of 
the Upper Amazon jungle and more than four hundred miles away, 
lay Chachapoyas. Was that where this road led? There was nothing 
in our records about this radial or why the Incas had built a road 
into this region, "What mystery lay here? 

This road, if that Spanish report written in 1 543 was true, ran 
east o the Royal Road for a distance of some four hundred miles. 
Why so great a road? We knew from history that when the Lord 
Inca was bent on conquest he would hurry as many as one hundred 
thousand troops over his roads in a single movement and that ac- 
companying the troops were burden-bearers and thousands of 
llamas serving as dray animals. This army was primarily a land 
army which moved only over roads, and with the rise of this An- 
dean Empire, new formulae were injected into warfare. The Inca 
wars were no ritualistic military promenades nor elaborate panoplies 
to overawe an enemy; they had but a single object victory! Their 


The Highway of the Sun 

roads were built to enable them to overwhelm an enemy with the 
shock of great force. 

A conquest of new territory was begun in this wise: the gov- 
ernors of all the territories through which the army of conquest 
was to pass were notified. They were to prepare the road, set up 
communications, build up a supply of weapons and set up and serv- 
ice all of the tampus that appeared every four leagues [12 miles] 
along the road. The roads came first. "I will explain," said Cieza, 
tc the ease with which they were constructed by the Indians with- 
out increasing the death rate or causing excessive labor. When 
the Inca decided to have one of these famous roads constructed, 
much preparation was unnecessary; it remained but for the Inca to 
give orders. For then, the overseers went over the ground, made the 
trace of the road, and the Indians received instructions to construct 
the road using local labor. Each province completed the section of 
the road within its own limits; when it reached the end of their 
boundary, it was taken up by others; when it was urgent, all 
worked at the same time." 

When the road was completed, the Lord Inca in Cuzco gathered 
his people in the great square of his city and took his place before 
the Stone of War "in the shape of a sugarloaf , well enclosed with 
gold" and dedicated the conquest to the gods. The functional ar- 
istocracy planned the campaign and led it. Battle leaders were 
chosen and each, carrying his own heraldic device, took his place at 
the head of his warriors armed with lances, sling-throwers and war- 
headed clubs. All the great storehouses along the road were made 
ready and the tribes along the route of the road alerted so that the 
road and the bridges were in the best condition. "All necessary 
things having been done, the Lord Inca now set out from Cuzco 
with his whole army and journeyed along a road as grand and wide 
as we now behold it . . ," 

The Inca himself was conveyed along the road in a golden-plated 


Highway of the Sun 

litter carried by sturdy Rucana tribesmen clad in pale blue livery. 
The Inca Sun God dressed as did the others, only more elaborately. 
He wore the breechclout, a split -neck poncho made of silklike vi- 
cuna wool; his hair was cut in bangs; enormous golden earplugs 
studded with diadems were plugged into punctured ear lobes; and 
he wore the royal "fringe," a multi-colored braid four inches wide 
from which dangled red tassels hanging from little gold tubes. In 
his hand like a medieval knight he carried a mace. Thus arrayed and 
preceded by his entire army, cc all of them brown and noisy/' they 
proceeded along the Royal Road until they reached Jauja "where 
the Wanka tribes prepared a solemn reception." The Lord Inca 
rested here while he had the various reports on the road which led 
toward Chachapoyas. 

Was it possible that we were now looking at the very road over 
which these great Inca armies had passed on their campaign of con- 
quest? Northward lay our route. At the top of a high pass, close to 
14,000 feet, at a spot referred to as Inka-Katana [seat of the Inca] 
by a little old man whose house we came upon at the side of the 
road, we reached the wide road. Ahead of us it stretched out for 
miles across the naked plain, while to the south there was a cascade 
of stone-tread steps. We calculated that we were seeing at least 
thirty miles of continuous, wonderfully preserved road, precisely 
what we had been hoping to find: a stretch of road long enough to 
permit us to study techniques of road construction, determine the 
Inca concept of topography, and details, if such could be found, of 
their extraordinary system of communications, and . . . 

That night we put up the large command tent in a raging snow- 
storm. Silvia had insisted that the place I chose for the campsite was 
in too exposed a position, but I wanted it to be right at the edge of 
the Inca road. As we struggled in the night wind with the tent, I 


The Highway of the Sun 

remembered that old Arabian saw, "A woman's opinion is of small 
value, but a man would be a fool to disregard it." At long last the 
tent was up and Lawrence, after long struggle, started the gener- 
ator. Before long we had bedded down in our sleeping bags. 

At dawn, with the temperature at freezing, we were awakened 
by the arrival of our Indian-laborers. I had arranged for their com- 
ing the day before by offering double the sum they generally re- 
ceived and as an added incentive, a generous portion of coca leaf. 
They were a sorry lot. Shapeless felt hats were pulled down over 
their heads; some had scraggly beards, an indication of Spanish 
blood; their rainbow-patched trousers and the ponchos which hung 
over their shoulders were all that clothed their nakedness from this 
bitter cold reason enough for the rheums that racked their bod- 
ies. While our meager breakfast was being prepared, I lined up the 
men and passed out the portions of coca leaves. This they at once 
proceeded to munch into compact balls which, lodged inside of their 
mouths, made their cheeks look very like a lemming's food pouch. 
What a Spaniard said of coca in 1550 was equally true today: "If 
coca did not exist, neither would Peru/ 5 

All work in the Andes is geared to the coca leaf. It is quite im- 
possible to obtain workmen unless they are given their daily rations. 
Millions of people Indians, cbolos, even whites are addicted to 
the habit throughout not only Peru but Bolivia, Chile, Argentina 
and as far north as Columbia. For centuries coca chewing has been 
the subject of prolonged controversy. 

Among the Incas, the use of the coca leaf was limited to the 
priestly hierarchy, to those who worked in the mines and to the very 
old. But with the conquest the habit became general. "So pleasant 
is coca to the Indians," said a Spaniard, "that they prefer it to gold 
or silver or precious stones." As to the effect of it, "they merely sa- 
vor the fragrance and swallow the juice . . . and the Indians that 
chew it show themselves stronger and more apt for labor . . . they 


Highway of the Sun 

work the whole day without eating." That, however, is part of the 
folklore of coca. Actually it does not take the place of food. If an 
Indian consumes fifty grams of coca leaf daily and he does he 
is getting about forty centigrams of cocaine, an amount which is 
certainly enough to narcotize the misery of the present. If it can- 
not be said to give a "lift" to his daily life, it at least does blunt the 
edge of the cold and allays the effect of thirst and hunger. 

The coca leaf ceremony over, our men shouldered their mattocks 
and moved to appointed tasks. What I wanted to see was just how 
these roads were built, and when the turf was removed and the dis- 
lodged stones replaced I would then have a chance to examine the 
equivalent of an original section of the mountain highway. The day 
was only a thin solution of the fog-bound night. In this voiceless re- 
gion without a tree or a bush to break the monotony of the flatness, 
it seemed as if we were on another planet. We had dressed as we 
would for the arctic, for the winds were sharp and snow still cov- 
ered the puna. Yet by the time the men had started their task of 
cleaning the turf and the sun commanded the temperature, it was 
warm enough to melt the snow. 

A cleansed section of the ancient road revealed the first surprise. 
It was not, as we had supposed, paved. The hard puna had offered a 
natural surface for such wayfarers who had only to worry about the 
scuff of the foot and the tread of llamas. While there were, we 
found, many sections of paved roads in the ancient system, they 
were not all stone -laid. Construction changed with the terrain and 
circumstances. If the road passed over a marsh, it was raised on a 
causeway; if it traversed a region of constant rainfall, it was paved. 
But generally on the hard puna and we were to find this true 
also on the coastal pampa the road surface was the earth. But no 
matter what material the surface, the mark of the Inca road was 
always to be found in the stone boundary walls. Here the wall of 
dry masonry stood two and a half feet high, its purpose to mark the 


The Highway of the Sun 

boundaries of the road, to contain it, and to keep soldiers and llamas 
to a defined path. Wherever the road ascended a gradient, it was 
laid with stone steps at intervals of twenty feet, and between each 
ran a stone-laid drainage which effectively drained water off the 
earth-surfaced roads. That it had served its purpose could be easily 
seen, for where the stones had been dislodged the road was cicatrized 
with a small eroded gully. 

It is all very well for us, having grown used to our various sys- 
tems of communication, to pass over their significance and, in our 
preoccupation with the here and now, to forget Man's long tortuous 
road of cultural growth. Democritus worried over atoms and atomic 
structure as early as 450 B.C., and flight by Man was envisioned long 
before Icarus made his fatal plunge into the Aegean. Man's techni- 
cal progress has been slow; he has progressed only by the pressure of 
his needs. But to get back to the Inca roads. In lifting the turf off 
a road built more than five hundred years ago in this inhospitable 
land, where in four days we had been subjected to hail, snow and 
freezing winds at an altitude higher than that of most European 
peaks, and in examining the revealed techniques of road construc- 
tion, we found an index to the marvels wrought by the Inca civ- 
ilization before it was destroyed centuries ago. 

While the work of excavation went on, Silvia and I decided to 
walk out over the highway to see what we could discover of its 
other features. We started off down the great road early one morn- 
ing while the fog still hung over the puna, armed with cameras, 
compass and measuring tape. For a while we shared the wide high- 
way with a herd of llamas being driven out by two small girls to 
graze in the distant hills. 

In the weeks past we had not had much time for leisurely talk to- 
gether of the death of kings and ruins of empire. As often as not in 
our search for the road, we had had to climb breathlessly to a road- 
bed which was most accurately described in literal terms as the 


Highway of the Sun 

"highway" and on arrival we were at once too involved in mak- 
ing measurements, or else in worrying about each step we took on 
the perilous hanging road, to be given the luxury of speculation. 
Now it was different. Although we were thousands of feet high, we 
were walking along a flat piina. This road, we had decided after 
studying it and our too brief notes on its history, had been built 
fairly late, probably about the year 1470. Why had it been built? If 
it was a military road, against whom or what was it directed? At 
that time the Inca was concerned with his conquest to the north 
where he planned to overwhelm his rival, the fabulous Kingdom of 
Chimor, on the coast. At the same time a second column of con- 
quest pushed slowly on toward Quito. The main highway, the 
Royal Road, swarmed with workers laboring like an endless stream 
of ants to project that overwhelming road across the sterile land. 
Then why this road? 

The Chancas again! In the lives of people as well as in the lives of 
nations there is often a single, a traditional, enemy. Time and the 
alchemy of time changes that enemy, makes him less real; the physi- 
cal threat is gone, the enmity has lost its potency, yet remembrance 
of the hated one remains. The Incas had such a traditional enemy 
in the Chancas. We had met the ghosts of this tribe, of which only 
Cieza de Leon has written, many times along our way. At the site 
of the Plain of Blood battlefield, we had seen where they had been 
defeated and where the Inca erected his macabre museum of stuffed 
Chanca warriors. We had met them again at Andahuaylas, their tra- 
ditional tribal home before they were forced out of it by their con- 
querors. And now along this road. After the defeat inflicted upon 
them by the Incas, the tribal survivors, under Hanco-huallu, the 
Chanca leader, had successfully resisted the usual process of absorp- 
tion into the new order and had escaped to the eastern Andes. This 
the Incas never forgot. This road, so we now believed, had been 
built to make a final conquest of the hated tribe. 

The Highway of the Sun 

Within an hour's walking time we came upon two chasqwi sta- 

It was not the first time we had seen ruins of these courier sta- 
tions, way stops for the native runners who carried the Inca's mes- 
sages throughout the Inca Empire, but this was the first time that 
we found them in succeeding order. These raised platforms lying 
close to the road on which were circular houses, each large enough 
for two Indians, have often been described by the early Spaniards, 
who thought the chasqiu system one of the marvels of the "newe 
founde worlde." 

With the discovery of two such ruined stations we proceeded 
more carefully, setting our pedometers so as to have a relative idea 
of the distance between the stations. On the top of a hill near Mesa- 
pata we found our third cbasqtii station, an even more elaborate 
one with raised platforms on either side of the road and large night 
quarters for the runners. That day we found seven such stations at 
intervals of a little less than two miles apart. We decided to give an 
empirical twist to our explorations by actually making test runs 
between the stations. 

From the beginning, Man has sought to establish some form of 
inter-communication. He has in time shouted, used fire, wig- 
wagged flags; he has beaten drums, used horses, relay runners, car- 
rier pigeons and cannons. Alexander the Great perfected smoke sig- 
nals to high degree, but until the telegraph was invented to consider 
"what hath God wrought," the Incas, a preliterate people, main- 
tained the speediest system of communications. A message sent by 
relay runner from Quito could reach Cuzco over a route of one 
thousand, two hundred and thirty miles in five days. From Cuzco 
the same message could be sent to the far end of Lake Titicaca in 
three days. On the coast, where altitude was not a delaying factor, 


Highway of the Sun 

relay runners carried messages from Lima to Quito, often over 
thousand-foot-high altitudes, in three days. And in his palace at 
Cuzco the Inca dined off fresh fish delivered from Chala on the 
coast, a distance of two hundred miles over the highest Andes, in 
two days. 

The Spanish conquistadores, accustomed to a world where sixty 
days was considered to be a normal lapse of time in which to secure 
communication with nearby countries, were incredulous. Of this 
system one later reported: 

The Incas invented a system of posts which was the best that 
could be thought of or imagined . . . and so well was this 
running performed, that in a short time they knew, at a dis- 
tance of three hundred, five hundred, or even eight hundred 
leagues, what had passed. . . . the roads passed over rugged 
mountains, over snow-covered heights, over stony wilder- 
nesses . . . and it may be taken as certain that the news could 
not have been conveyed with greater speed on swift horses. 

Still one thousand, two hundred and thirty miles in five days! 
That would mean that the chasqni relay was run at an average of 
246 miles a day over a terrain which averaged more than 10,000 
feet elevation and through passes which often were 15,000 feet. 
Even the Romans were fortunate indeed if their mounted couriers 
could cover a hundred miles a day. There are no figures on the trans- 
mission of news from Rome, but in the age of Cicero forty-seven 
days was considered normal traveling time for a letter to be deliv- 
ered one thousand miles from Rome, and when Cicero was in ex- 
ile at Cybistra he spoke of receiving a letter in "good time," or fifty 
days after it left Rome. So the idea of five hundred leagues 
twelve hundred miles being traveled in five days was under- 
standably startling to the newly arrived Europeans. 

We made our preparations for the test. The road beyond Jauja, 
repaired and cleaned of any obstruction for more than ten miles, 

The Highway of the Sun 

was more or less as it tad been in the times of the Lord Incas. We 
selected six young cholo men used to the high altitudes and for 
these Silvia made copies of the original Indian chasqui tunics* We 
went through the final details of our test. The distance having been 
measured between each chasqui station, we carefully reread the de- 
tails of the run as reported by Cieza: 

The chasqui stations were built from half league to half 
league [Ours were on an average of a mile and a half to two 
miles apart]. . . . The roads were lined with these small 
houses at regular intervals. In each house the order read that 
there should be two Indians stationed there with provisions. 
The ckasqui then ran with great speed, without stopping, each 
one for his half league. 

Our young men were not trained runners, while the ancient 
cbasquis had been "chosen from among the most active and swiftest 
of all their tribesmen," and their bodies had been taught to function 
under such conditions as they would encounter at heights of 10,000 
to 15,000 feet. Due to the rare atmospheres in which they live, all 
Andean people have developed enormous lung capacity. This and 
this alone allows life at these great altitudes. So even though our 
runners were not trained, we hoped at least by establishing an arbi- 
trary handicap to make a fair test of the chasqui system. Dr. Roger 
Bannister had not yet made his historical run of the four-minute 
mile. We later learned that he had trained deliberately, slowing 
down his heart action and building up his chest expansion to give 
him generous supplies of oxygen for conquering anoxemia or short- 
ness of breath. Thus by artificial means he had induced a physical 
condition which the Indians, inured to these high altitudes, had ac- 
quired through environment. 

Our cholos did at least look like the ancient chasq^iis and with 
their knit caps pulled down over their ears, their tunic-like ponchos 
extending to their knees and their feet shod in leather sandals, they" 


Highway of the Sun 

looked as if they really were about to run on the Inca's business. At 
each of the seven stations strung along the Inca road we had as- 
sistants with stop watches, and at each we had an Indian chasqiii 
poised to run. The starter of the relay held a quip^t,, the knotted 
pendant of cord by which figures and even concrete ideas were 
transmitted to trained readers. This quipu was to be handed from 
one runner to another, along with a simple oral message as each new 
man started off toward the next station. 

Lawrence stationed himself at the start to film the various stages 
of the run. At the signal, a short bow-legged runner started off 
with a burst of speed. I watched him running smoothly down the 
wide road he looked incredibly small on that expanse of man- 
made highway. 

I saw him reach the next station and through my binoculars I 
could see the two runners exchanging the quipu while still in mo- 
tion. Then the new runner burst away to make his run to the next 
two-mile station. As this figure disappeared over a knoll and I 
walked down to join Silvia, I remembered a passage out of Cieza 
it was like the quotation borrowed from the Greeks which adorns 
the New York Post Office: 

With such secrecy did the runners keep their messages . . . 
that neither entreaty or menace could ever extort it from 
them. . . . And it must be understood that neither storm nor 
anything else prevented the due service of the posts in the 
wildest parts as soon as one started another arrived to wait 
in his place. 

It snowed again that night. Our six chasquis, utterly exhausted 
by the day's run, were now wrapped snugly in their ponchos. They 
had gone the course many times so that we might check our own 


The Highway of the Sun 

figures and so that Lawrence's Bolex might catch numerous angles 
of flying feet and the exchange of the quipu for the film docu- 
mentary. Now, after a hot meal, they had succumbed. We were 
busy over the figures. We had computed the exact time it took for 
them to run between stations and the overall figure of the thirteen- 
mile relay run. Our untrained cbasqnts, performing at about 14,000 
feet altitude, had run an average. six-and-a-half minute mile! On 
this basis they had run the approximate six stations or eleven 
miles in fifty-nine minutes. Therefore, the 246 miles they would 
have had to run in a twenty-four-hour day to complete the Quito- 
Cuzco relay could have been accomplished. 

We were now in a position to confirm Cieza's report and those of 
other earlier chroniclers that the chasqui system could accomplish 
the run between Cuzco and Quito in five days; that from Lima to 
Cuzco in three days, and from the coast to Cuzco in two days. And 
so the Lord Inca could have been served daily with fresh fish from 
the sea. 

That night I dreamed of a chasqui running up the road with an 
out-sized fish it seemed to be having trouble breathing in the 
high altitude. 

Late November found us traveling through the snowbound an- 
tiplano. Silvia maintained she could no longer remember a time 
when she had been really warm. Only at rare moments did the sun 
give respite from the unrelenting cold and rain, hail and snow, 
swept down in succession and with no pattern. 

Through it all we followed that continuing road, stretching end- 
less miles across the flat snow-swept plains, climbing the rock mass 
of mountains, crossing on stone causeways over some bottomless 
bog. But all this was no longer a cause for wonder on our part. We 
had reached a point where the best we could do was to record the 


Highway of the Sun 

unusual, make out our reports, film some remarkable engineering 
feature, set our compass and move on. Once Silvia was sure she was 
suffering from the surumpi (snow-blindness) or that she had the 
beginnings of hallucinations, for as she stood on the road stamping 
circulation into her frozen feet, she thought she saw a line of black- 
winged flamingos walking in front of her. ... It was no illusion. 
Flamingos bad walked by. We had come by way of the Inca road 
to Lake Junin. 

All the rest of that day we kept to the east side of what is Peru's 
second largest lake. It was high and cold and deserted. The little 
villages at the edge of its thirty-six-mile shore lie at an altitude of 
13,000 feet with no protecting hill to break the blast of the ice- 
laden winds. Junin was once called Chinchay-cocha (Lake of the 
Lynx). The original inhabitants, famed for their warlike spirit, 
when attacked would take to island-fortresses in the lake's center 
and to conquer them the Lord Inca had to send to the coast for 
balsa-reed boats with which to assault their island strongholds. 
Once they were subdued, however, they became loyal vassals of the 
Inca, and the region of such importance that it became "one of the 
directions of empire." The northern route of the highway itself was 
called the Chinchay Road. 

Our caravan continued on along the Inca road stopping only 
long enough to take compass bearings and mark the route down on 
an overlay of the Peruvian military map. At the northern end of 
the lake, the land became an immense bog and we lost our way con- 
stantly in the thick fog and, to make matters more complicated, it 
began to snow heavily. By the end of the second day's travel we 
had no idea where we were. Mud dwellings had appeared here and 
there but when we approached them the people were too frightened 
to answer our questions. We were looking for Bonbon, where, ac- 
cording to our research, lay a large Inca site and where three roads 


The Highway of the Sun 

were said to have met. By nightfall we could only inch along liter- 
ally feeling our way. About us was a horrid desolation. It was so 
cold now that we had to take turns riding in the Power Wagon 
which alone of our cars had a heating system. It was impossible to 
prepare food outside, so we munched on the last of our chocolate 
and found some consolation in drinking coffee. A primitive bridge 
which we crossed in darkness indicated that we had gone over the 
only river which drains this lake. "We were puzzled to see that this 
flowed due north, while our maps showed that the river we sought 
flowed south. 

Should we stop and make camp in the snow or empty out the 
Power Wagon and sleep in it? Should we keep on searching for that 
illusive Inca site or should we drive on? We were considering these 
alternatives when, above the throb of the motors, we heard the roar 
of falling water. It grew louder as we went slowly on, until it was 
deafening. Then, as the road turned, we saw the twinkling of elec- 
tric lights. Soon we had pulled up in front of a wooden house. Al- 
most at once we were around a pot-bellied iron stove which gave 
out a wonderful glowing heat. After so many days and nights on 
the antiplano, we were now to have heat and the comfort of a bed. 
Gratefully we allowed ourselves to be provided with hot food be- 
fore we dropped into oblivion. 

In the morning we could hardly believe our eyes. The Inca site of 
Bonbon, which for a century had thwarted historians' attempts to 
pin-point it on the map, lay before us. This was a somewhat embar- 
rassing situation for an explorer! The whereabouts of this town 
the hub site of three radical roads, so it was reported by the early 
chroniclers was actually no mystery at all. Close by was a mod- 
ern dam which held back the Mantaro River as it flowed out of Lake 
Junin. This had been built by the Cerro de Pasco Mining Corpora- 


Highway of the Sun 

tion, whose engineers had torn down much of the ancient village 
to get the stones for the dam. But there was no doubt about its 
origin. On the banks in the backed-up waters we could see the re- 
mains of an Inca suspension bridge. A causeway led from the bridge 
up to a wide stone staircase and entered northwest along the walls 
of what once were large stone buildings and extended toward the 
immense plaza. We had seen nothing like it in size since we had ex- 
plored Vilcas-huaman. The trapizoidal-shaped plaza proved, when 
accurately measured, to be over a thousand feet long. In the center 
stood a Sun Temple, and from its approximate sides went radial 
roads one to the coast which an Indian could reach in three days 
of walking on the Inca road, another to the north which went over 
the puna to the highways of the snow-capped mountains of the 
white cordillera, and yet another, the Royal Road, which led to the 
northeast and the stone city of Huanuco the Old. There must have 
been five hundred stone structures within Bonbon and those which 
had not been entirely denuded still revealed their original form. 

Eager to learn something more of the history of this place, we 
began to gather such potsherds as we came across. Silvia found a 
large cache of broken pottery on the stone-terraced banks of the 
river, and soon we were scrounging in the debris of centuries. In a 
few hours we had a large collection of fragments of broken pottery, 
spindles, spindle whorls, pieces of figurines and ax clubheads. They 
were, as we could see by the design, shape and structure, all Inca 
artifacts and the type of polychrornic ware used when the Incas 
had reached their peak. Therefore, since these fragments were many 
and lay close to the surface of the earth, we felt we could safely as- 
sume that the Incas had built Bonbon. It is well known that the 
history of preliterate people is mainly written in such artifacts. 
There was little doubt that this was the same Bonbon to which Her- 
nando Pizarro had come in March 1 1, 1533, "when he marched into 
Pompo where he stayed for the day he arrived and one day more/* 


The Highway of the Sun 

The scrivener's description of it fits the place exactly; he wrote that 
the river [the Mantaro] which originated in the lake flowed by Bon- 
bon "very clear and deep" and that it "connected with the Royal 
Road" as it did by means of the bridge. We found the remains of 
three cable stone towers which by some miracle had survived time, 
weather, and immersion in the Mantaro when its watercourse was 
high. It was this bridge or fragment of bridge which Poma de Ayala, 
chronicler of Inca events, in his guide to the roads and tambos on 
the road, mentions cryptically: bonbon tambo rreal puente de cris- 
nexas del inga topa ynga yupanqui. Translated this indicated that 
Bonbon, a royal way station with a suspension bridge, had been 
built by the Lord Topa Inca. That placed it close to A.D. 1450. 

It was well that we had not delayed in our examination of the ru- 
ins of Bonbon, for two days later, the sky grew dark, snow began 
to fall, and soon the ruins were blotted out of sight. 


X I 

The Road to Chachapoyas 

IN A WIDE FLAT PLAIN lay Huanuco. The ground was strewn with 
beautifully worked stone and we entered the plaza from the Inca 
road by means of a formal entrance of steps and guardhouses. It 
was immense. Ruins of dwellings, many and thickly placed, filled 
the plain outside the plaza and a low hill to the northwest. In the 
center of the Gargantuan square was what had doubtless been the 
Sun Temple. At the western end of the square stood the palace. 
Here we found six continuing stone gateways, the finest, I would 
say, in all Peru, and over each portal crouching animal figures which 
resembled lizards. Through these I entered a series of immense rooms 
which led into an architectural complex where there was a sunken 
bath fed by two water flumes, "one for cold water, the other for 
hot," said our guide. He was unable to explain how the hot water 
reached Huanuco from Banos some ten miles distant. 

Huanuco is so gigantic the whole of Incaic Cuzco would have 
fitted into it that we found it difficult to grasp the immensity of 
the human effort expended to build it. Something of its size can be 
gathered from a Spaniard who passed there in 1 548 : 

Huanuco has a fine royal palace . . . the chief palace in 
this province of Huamalies with near it a Temple of the Sun 
with many virgins and priests. It was so grand a place in the 


The Road to Chachapoyas 

time of the Incas that more than 30,000 Indians were set apart 
solely for its service. 

In 1539 the Spaniards seized this Inca stronghold which was so 
"grand a place" and which offered so many captives as potential 
burden-bearers for their future conquests. For two years they 
sought to maintain a settlement at the iz,ooo-foot altitude. Then, 
unable to bear the secular winds, they betook themselves northeast 
to a warmer climate and there they built Huanuco the New. Yet 
life in the old Huanuco survived the conquest, for in io8 when a 
padre traveled that way he found the ct tambo with a few Indians 
to run it for the accommodation of travelers since it is on the Bang's 
[i.e., the Inca's] highway." 

To us Huanuco was important because it was the principal 
stronghold from which conquests were launched in several direc- 
tions along the roads of conquest leading out from it, Like Dr. 
Johnson's Rasselas, I could say that te my curiosity does not very 
strongly lead me merely to survey piles of stones or mounds of 
earth, my business is with man/' But for the story of those who had 
once lived in Huanuco we turned later to documents in the Na- 
tional Archives in Lima, where we found a sixteenth-century Span- 
ish manuscript on the city, the most complete report of its kind in 

After the conquest of Peru, the newly installed Viceroy gave 
much thought to Old Huanuco. Why had a once so greatly pop- 
ulated place suddenly ceased to yield tribute to the crown? What 
had happened to the more than thirty thousand natives who were 
there at the time of the conquest and what of the city which was so 
bright a jewel in the Inca Empire? Accordingly, he dispatched Don 
Inigo de Zuniga to look into these matters. He arrived there in 
1562. With interpreters and Indian caciques at his elbow to pry out 
information from the inhabitants, he passed from house to house 
compiling the statistics which resulted in the most detailed census 

Highway of the Sun 

ever made of the ancient Peruvians. 1 The following is a sample of 
the information de Zufiiga carried back to his Viceroy: 


In this house is an Indian named Ana Colque who is a widow 
around 70 years old, without sons or daughters; her tribute 
every four months is a ball of spun wool thread and a chicken 
every year with some eggs. 

Throughout the whole district the Indians were questioned in de- 
tail on their origins and how they had paid their tribute for the 
thirty years previous to the then reigning Inca. Some of the old 
men, trained quipu readers, by consulting their "talking strings" 
were able to relate much about Huanuco. 

The original inhabitants of Huanuco, the Yacbas, were con- 
quered by the Topa Inca in 1462 and the building of the fortress of 
Huanuco was then begun. To secure the land from uprising, the 
Inca transferred whole populations from Cuzco to this area. These 
mitmaes quichwas, transferred people of Quechua speech, were the 
Inca's own in short, people he trusted to hold the land and in- 
sure its allegiance and "to guard the fortresses which the Inca made 
during the conquest." 

The Yachas, adopted by their conquerors, were in turn settled in 
villages northwest of Huanuco, and the new arrivals along with the 
^great-eared Incas" were placed to the southwest. Tribute was lev- 
ied on everyone within the jurisdiction of Huanuco. From the 
warmer regions, the Indians brought cotton, peppers, coca leaf, fish, 
corn and gold; from the cold zone, potatoes, salt, cabuya fibers and 
a tuber called qmnoa. All this tribute was marked down by one of 
the conquerors, who had an official counter make a note of it. Of 

1 "Information on estates and agents. Visit for the allotment of Indi- 
ans of Gomez Arias Davila, native of Huanuco/* a report written by 
I. Ortiz de Zufiiga, 1562. 


The Road to Chachapoyas 

those at Huanuco, only the warriors who guarded the fortresses 
and those who guarded the bridges did not pay tribute. The corn 
harvested from the communal fields of the Yachas was carried to 
Huanuco, to Bonbon and to Cuzco. They were also ordered to send 
men to garrison the fortresses. 

Two roads entered Huanuco, two roads left Huanuco. One, the 
Royal Road, descending in a sharp flight of stairs, made its exit at 
the northwest end of the elevated plaza and moved straight to the 
Vizcarro River, where it crossed a primitive bridge made of several 
tree lengths laid over an Inca stone foundation. "Half league from 
Huanuco, where there is a bridge over a torrential river made of 
three thick logs and where there are guards who collect a toll as is 
customary among these Indians," one of the Pizarros in 1533 had 
crossed this highway, which, we knew from our previous explora- 
tion, was the Royal Road which led to Cajamarca and north to 
Quito and beyond. 

The other road which debouched from the northeast side of 
Huanuco, I felt certain, was the same forty-five-foot-wide con- 
quest road we had just seen near Jauja. It had broken off there from 
the Royal Road to take its separate way until it once again rejoined 
the main road at Huanuco. Since this had been the great military 
station for the conquest of Chachapoyas, it seemed most probable 
that this highway was that built by the Incas for their conquest of 
the Chancas. 

Silvia was not overjoyed at the prospect of a horseback ride over 
some three hundred miles. It would be an arduous journey but at 
last she gave in, being as unable as I to leave the mystery of the 
Road of Conquest unsolved. Lawrence and the others elected to re- 
main at Huanuco to work on his documentary film and to further 
explore the ruins. He would then drive on to the coast, for he knew 
he could not long remain here with the rains already falling. So it 
Was arranged. We gathered our guides, pack animals, horses, se- 


Highway of the Sun 

lected the equipment designed for just this sort of travel and 
then rode off into the twilight which shrouds the undiscovered. 

u ls it not as I explained to you, Senor? There is the Maranon, far 
below, like a great silver snake, and here is the road. You will find 
that I, Francisco Ocampo . . /' 

We had certainly found out plenty about Francisco Ocampo. He 
was the only one among us with enough energy to talk and that 
talk was mostly about Francisco Ocampo. Born on the road to 
Chachapoyas, orphaned at childhood with his numerous brothers 
and sisters, he had managed somehow to live by his wits. By his 
bearded face and saturnine manner one would have taken him for 
a mere picaro, one who sees the seamy side of life. Yet none was 
more ardent than he in searching for the illusive Inca road, no one 
more dedicated an unusual thing in itself, for here the people 
have not much enthusiasm for any active enterprise. But Francisco 
has ridden often about this desolate country corraling supply mule- 
trains for isolated gold mines, and so he knew the land. 

In the first two weeks of our journey in search of the conquest 
road, we had to cross and recross the Maranon, take trucks where 
we could, going by horse and mule at other times. When we 
reached Cuntur-marca, the "heights of the condor," we were geo- 
graphically at the halfway mark between Huanuco and Chacha- 
poyas 2 and finally able to travel a continuous road. The upper 
Maranon through which we now trekked is the least known region 

2 To give a detailed itinerary, the Inca road to Chachapoyas left the 
great square at Huanuco, moved northeast, crossed the Maranon to 
Quivilla (on the east bank) continued on high ground to CHavin de 
Pariacra, continued at about 10,000 feet to Acrotambo; then to the large 
ancient holding called Haucrachucro; from there to Tayapampa, then 
to Parcoy and to Pataz, where the Maranon can be seen for the first time 
snaking through the high hills of the Upper Maranon; Cuntur-marca lies 
ten miles north of Pataz. 


The Road to Chacbapoyas 

in all Peru. While the jungle areas have been thoroughly traversed 
by both natives and whites and other remote sections of Peru are 
mapped in detail, of the upper Marafion little is on record. Our 
maps merely placed the names of widely separated villages in their 
relative position and that was all. Geographically the region belongs 
to the Central Andes, but the Marafion River has etched out a deep 
canyon isolating it from the Mother Andes, and sandwiched be- 
tween it and the Huallaga River, cut off from Central Peru, lies 
this towering land roughly two hundred miles in length and thirty 
at its greatest depth. 

But the great conquest road was no longer to be guessed at. We 
were riding it over rolling hills, treeless and cold, and as we rode, 
Silvia and I talked of this road and its history. At first we had been 
so engaged in crossing rivers on shaky contrivances, finding places 
to sleep, so absorbed with the mere mechanics of moving, that we 
had had little time for talk. Now we were again in the open with the 
wind blowing in unobstructed from the Amazon jungles which lay 
not too far away to set the ichu grass, as tall as sugar cane, in mo- 
tion. The whole heavens curved about us. 

Hate and fear had built this road. Perhaps therefore this was a 
good time to consider the creative qualities of hate. Even after his 
realm had been enlarged to include a lordly section of South Amer- 
ica, the Incas had felt impelled, as we have said, to seek out and de- 
stroy that small defiant and much hated colony of Chancas living 
in the eastern Andes. That this tribe was beyond the reach of their 
searching Argus-eyed Sun King worried the Inca to distraction. 

In an earlier time, when the Incas were battering their way 
through stubborn resistence, the Chancas, eight thousand strong, 
had been sent on the road as part of the Inca army of conquest^ 
the Inca believing so to rid themselves of the remainder of this 
tribe. It was then that the Chancas with "their women and Hanco- 

Highway of the Sun 

huallu and eight thousand warriors, marched secretly away through 
the provinces of Huanuco and Chachapoyas into the forests of the 
low-lying Andes . . . where they established their kingdom and 
multiplied . . ." The Inca Empire at the height of its power gave 
chase and attacked, yet apparently without their usual elaborate 
preparations, and the Chancas "fought with such fury that the 
Incas fled before them." 

The answer to this was the road of conquest over which we were 
now riding. Only by staggering human effort and endurance could 
this road have been built. Since there were no rocky outcrops 
nearby, the large stone slabs which made up the paved road had to 
be carried to it over a distance and the deep canyons and there 
were many were miracles of construction with their step road 
and mountain switchbacks, all wonderfully arranged with stone 

By the time we reached Cuntur-marca, where we came to our 
first recognizable Inca tampu, Silvia was properly exhausted. Our 
food along the way had been meager and the altitudes at times were 
so high that she had gone through agonizing moments of shortness 
of breath, racing pulse and all the other symptoms of soroche. But 
in ruins though it was, the tampu still was the best stopping place 
we had seen in a full week. We were on the top of the jalka, a bare 
treeless region like the punas over which we had traveled so long, 
except that we were now experiencing cyclonic winds that blew up 
from the Amazon. 

Our camp that night was set up in the Inca's tambo, of stone and 
without windows. The roof, replaced frequently throughout the 
centuries, was of gabled wooden beams thatched with ichu grass. 
Only a portion of it, a small room scarcely larger than a cell, was 
habitable. Silvia stretched out on a blanket on the ground using her 
saddle as a headrest while we busied ourselves with putting the 

i foe &oaa to 

place In order. Francisco, gay as ever, chased about looking for 
some pieces of wood. On a rude bed of dry grass, where someone 
had evidently once stored potatoes, I unrolled our down-filled sleep- 
ing bags. While Silvia made herself comfortable on them, I pre- 
pared our food over our gasoline-operated paratrooper stove and 
Francisco, in a corner where the draft could not reach it, soon had a 
stew of dried llama meat and potatoes going. Then, to the accom- 
paniment of the howling winds, Francisco continued his life's story 
as he had night after night, a sort of bowdlerized version of the 
night tales of Scheherazade. He had reached midway in the telling 
o how he had found a mountain of gold when the blanket which 
hung as a door between the night and ourselves was pushed aside 
and out went our candle. Sputtering a whole litany of curses on 
whoever had let In the wind, I finally located a match and lit the 
candle. "We were confronted by two lean and unkempt-looking visi- 
tors. Francisco, looking oddly shaken, hurriedly did the honors of 
our hovel, offering cigarettes and coffee. The two, roughly dressed 
and unshaven, said they had seen the light in the tambo and so had 
come to investigate. They plied us with so many questions that fi- 
nally, our quota of patience used up, we bade them a curt good- 

Francisco awakened me a few hours later. In a hoarse whisper he 
told me that our saddled animals were waiting outside, that we 
must leave at once, for the two men were bandits and it would be 
wise for us to move on. I doubted this at first, for few lands in the 
world are safer for the traveler than Peru. Yet since Francisco in- 
sisted he knew what he was talking about, we silently stole out to 
the frigid night, mounted, put on our heavy woolen ponchos and 
were on our way north before the rising of the Dog Star. 

Three hours later, when the sun had warmed the earth, we 
stopped for coffee under the protection of the walls of some ruins 
near a lake at the edge of the road. As we were about to mount, 


Highway of the Sun 

Francisco spoke excitedly: "They come!" Through my binoculars I 
could see our erstwhile guests riding toward us. Each carried a shot- 
gun. They were perhaps a half-mile away, traveling along the edge 
of the lake and pushing their horses to a gallop. I had not, as yet, 
been much concerned with Francisco's fears, but perhaps just a 
shot across the bow . . . 

I found a good position and aimed well ahead of them. In the 
preternatural stillness, my big-calibered rifle sounded like the slam 
of a cannon, the lake pushed up a small geyser of water some dis- 
tance in front of them and a horse shied. I fired again, this time 
closer; they reined in their horses, turned and galloped away. 

As we moved northward people and houses began to appear with 
some frequency. The dwellings, mostly constructed from worked 
stone taken from the ancient ruins, were rough and roofed with 
grass thatch. The people, although swarthy in complexion, were 
not Indian and did not speak the Quechua language. Yet they lived 
in hovels far worse, I judge, than did the natives in the time of the 
Inca. The entire household slept in one room, generally in one bed 
made of untanned cattle hides. As a stove there was only a pile of 
stones laid on the ground. Yet these people could not be called poor. 
It was not unusual for a man to own as much as three hundred 
head of sheep, five hundred cattle, horses and pigs. In Europe if a 
man had so much livestock he would have been considered well off. 
Nevertheless they lived wretchedly, and I was happy to exchange 
medicines for such food as they could give us without making in- 
roads into their not too plentiful supplies. 

We were now in the third week of travel from Huanuco, riding 
down the slopes of a long valley covered with tufts of grass so high 
that at times I could only see the top of Silvia's head. The sky was 
leaden, the wind blew icily, bending double the tall grass. We rode 


The Koad to Cbachapoyas 

by immense boulders hoary with moss, sections of eroded rock 
which had fallen off with the passing of centuries like the leaves 
of a geological calendar marking the years of the sun. 

And so we came in due course to the valley of Atwen. From a 
natural lake, artificially widened and artificially bound by hand- 
reared rock walls, flowed the headwater stream of the Uctubamba 
River, which emptied into the jungles one hundred miles to the 
northeast. Here we came upon the remains of what was once a gi- 
gantic Inca barracks. Although all the surrounding present-day 
dwellings were built of the stone taken from the ancient structure, 
enough of it remained for us to study it and to prepare a ground 
plan. Surface excavations yielded pottery, mace-heads, bronze 
knives all of which bore eloquent testimony to the fact that once 
the Incas had passed this way. This was the first sizable Inca ruin we 
had found along the road to Chachapoyas and it might well have 
been the rallying place of the soldiers before they assaulted the en- 
emy fortresses that lay ahead. 

The path over which we traveled was now confined to the nar- 
row valley of the Upper Uctubamba and passed through what had 
formerly been a heavily defended area. Almost every peak was 
topped by the ruins of a defense point and below these ran the Inca 
road. Five hundred years of indiscriminate passage by the Spanish 
settlers had reduced this section of the highway to a mass of scat- 
tered stone and where the road had disappeared, it had become a 
quagmire. No one since the time of the Incas had given thought to 
repairing the road and the heavy rains plus the constant passage o 
mule-trains had almost completely destroyed it. 

That night we slept in an old house which lay under the shadow 
of Torre Pukro, the highest peak in the valley. I had been watching 
it for most of the day as we rode and as we drew close I saw 
through my binoculars the terraced hills and on the silhouetted 
pinnacle the ruins of a massive fortress. 


Highway of the Sun 

Oddly we found a large mirror in the house and so for the first 
time in many weeks we had a good look at ourselves. Among our- 
selves we had been perhaps unduly critical of the appearance of 
those we met on the way. The women, we said, looked like old 
crones and the men as if they had never bathed or shaved. Now we 
saw what the land had done to us. Silvia's face was raw from the 
wind and darkly tanned; her eyes were bloodshot from the camp- 
fire smoke and her hair a pallid ash color from the dirt of the trail. 
As for me, what with my beard, the dirt and the tan, mine was a 
visage which would have competed on equal terms with any we had 
passed on the way. That three weeks should have been so wearing 
on us I 

In the morning I began to climb to the hilltop fortress of Torre 
Pukro. The first thousand feet was easy and within an hour I was 
perched high on the cliff looking down on the narrow river. Clearly 
seen from this height was the scar of the Inca road. My guide, car- 
rying the cameras, eased ahead, found an ancient path that zig- 
zagged up the second thousand feet, and soon we were climbing 
over the tumbled remains of agricultural terraces. I marveled at 
the immense human effort that went into building these walls on 
the edge of nothing for the one purpose of salvaging so little soil. 
In this vast land which was Peru, arable land was so scarce and man 
so pressed by necessity that he had had to resort to terracing the 

Above ten thousand feet the going was difficult; I would climb 
fifty feet, rest five minutes, climb again, rest. In two hours I had 
reached the top. The ruins of the fortress, massively built of stone, 
extended all along the topographical saddle of the mountain, much 
as did Machu Picchu near to Cuzco, offering a fine vantage point 
for looking down the throat, so to speak, of the valley. At one time 
this had been an advantageous lookout station for the protection of 
the Inca road which could be seen running as a thin line three thou- 


The Road to Chachapoyas 

sand feet below. The conquest of this strongly-placed fortress must 
indeed have cost the Inca's troops a considerable expenditure of 
blood capital. From this spot I could see that there were similar 
fortresses on many of the other hilltops. When I had surveyed the 
ruins and collected numerous potsherds, I made my way wearily 
down through a sudden hailstorm. 

The climb to that mountain citadel had done me in. In the morn- 
ing, for the first time in a year's exploration, I had to beg off from 
a proposed climb to another ruin reported to be on this side of the 
valley and buried in the gloom of a forest. "We were still up 9000 
feet and though there had been no change in the barometer nor in 
the thermometer, which kept to a mean of forty-five degrees, yet 
the valleys and portions of these hills were as thickly forested as a 
jungle. An old woman who had come to our camp to ask for medi- 
cines while I was inspecting the fortress had told Silvia that at 
Choquillo up in the wooded hills "there was buried a stone city 
built by the savages." Many times had we, responding to such ru- 
mors, climbed some wearisome hill only to find nothing. Too often 
time and energy had been spent chasing these shadows. Now here 
was another tale of another "stone city buried in the trees" lying at 
the end of an archaeological rainbow. Even Francisco with all his 
tricks of raillery could not move me. Silvia and the two guides 
could go without me if they so desired. 

When they had gone I lay back in immense tiredness. I wanted 
only to be allowed the utter luxury of being motionless. 


I wakened to find one of our guides beside me, pulling my sleeve. 
"Dona Silvia has sent me, you are to come. She has found the stone 

That was quite enough to shake off my weariness and in no time 


Highway of the Sun 

I was up and following him through the scrub brush in the hollows, 
past a ruin or two, and on through a deep canyon. Then we were in 
the forest of Choquillo, where we were swallowed up at once in 
growth so thick that the boy had to use his machete to cut the 
encumbering vines. An occasional palm tree showed its head, lianas 
like massive ship cables bound tree to tree, aerial plants clung to 
trees, orchids hung in profusion from the highest limbs and birds 
silently fluttered among the growth. I could not have been more 
surprised at finding this jungle in the Andes if I had been trans- 
ported to a magic forest. 

Here and there sections of massive man-made white stone walls, 
covered with thick verdure, were just visible through the under- 
growth. Ahead I heard the sound of a machete and the crash of 
trees and in a clearing in front of a round towerlike stone build- 
ing was Silvia, directing the cutting of the vegetation that ham- 
pered the view. Excitedly she came to meet me. It was true. The 
whole stretch of forest was filled with stone buildings ! 

Great trees had embraced the walls of the ancient site, just as I 
had seen them at the Maya ruins at Yucatan. We would see at first 
a patch of white. Then, upon coming close, we would discover the 
patch to be a rounded wall, part of a circular structure. These were 
set in clusters of three and were connected with beautifully laid 
ashlars forming stone steps. The dual walls were high and roofless, 
but apart from such stones as had been uprooted by the trees, most 
of the buildings were well preserved. Here the jungle had acted as 
a protecting screen from the elements and, lying unseen, the city 
had been spared the usual ravages of time. 

We cleared the vegetation from what we judged to have been the 
largest structure. And there it was a dwelling set on an enor- 
mous oval-shaped stone base. From out the jungle growth, a well- 
made wall of dry masonry rose up twenty-five feet, its axis over 
seventy feet long, with not a stone out of place. On top of this oval 


The Road to Chachapoyas 

base, set back in a recess, was another similarly designed structure 
differing only in that this one had a door and square windows and 
the suggestion of a fret design in a mosaic of stones running about 
its top. Before its sharply pitched roof made of grass thatch had 
fallen in, the building must have had an overall height of sixty 
feett Francisco cleared the stone stairways and we, following him 
between the two houselike ruins, found ourselves on a balcony 
ledge. We walked around it toward the doorway on a thick moss 
carpet which covered the stones. This we rolled back, and under 
it we found well-laid masonry as glowing white as it must have 
been when it was first laid down. Under the moss, too, we discov- 
ered large carved stone heads sculptured on tenons which were part 
of the architecture. As the unrolling of the moss-carpet progressed, 
we found five such heads. 

In the exact center on the circular wall was the doorway much 
like the doorways I had seen in Mayan structures. The terrace 
which had been made of wood had succumbed to the elements and 
had fallen, dislodging a few stones. This was the only defect 
otherwise the walls were in perfect state. Stepping inside the circu- 
lar building, we passed into a dense growth of trees covered with 
flowering orchids. The quiet of this forest and the mysterious jun- 
gle-covered ruins made me think of John Lloyd Stephens, the New 
York lawyer who, during his travel through the Honduran jun- 
gle in 1839, first discovered the Maya culture. tc l am entering 
abruptly upon new ground," he said. Just so were we. 

On the outside walls a fret design with large Greek-key motif 
ran around the entire edge of the building. This, too, was a type of 
wall decoration very similar in design and technique to those found 
in the Maya ruins of Ucmal in Yucatan. 

The roof was gone, but all else was in place window spaces for 
ventilation; square mural niches in which the images of local gods 
had been set; a deer antler lodged in the wall and probably used as 


Highway of the Sun 

a tunic hanger,- a large stone on the floor for grinding corn, intact 
with stone roller; and, as our excavation progressed, a floor laid 
with flat flagstones. Then to our surprise and delight we came across 
evidences of Inca occupation. The structure, which we were by this 
time convinced was not Inca in origin, had undoubtedly been con- 
temporaneous with the Inca Empire, and now the finding of Inca- 
designed pottery and a copper knife and stone celts indicated that 
this, too, had been a city conquered and used by the Inca's troops. 

If only there had been some writing, some hieroglyphic scorings 
such as one finds in the ruins of the Old World! But there were 
only these silent circular stone buildings standing in a jungle. Was 
this one of the cities and the forts on the hills which belonged to 
the sought-after Chancas of whom de la Vega had noted: "The 
Topa Inca went to conquer Chachapoyas; they [the Chancas] had 
built many fortifications and he had to take them one by one . . . 
the first was near the town of Pias . . . then he had to go through 
a mountain pass called Chirmaccassa and from here southward he 
had to conquer all the towns for eight leagues." Or were these the 
remains of another culture without name or history which stood in 
the way of the Inca in their frantic search for the illusive Chancas 

The mountain ramparts along the Lower Uctubamba Valley are 
filled with ruins of ancient fortresses, cities and burial chullpas, 
some of which have been explored for more than a century. High 
on the east of the Uctubamba Valley are the ruins of the great 
fortress of Kuelape, similar in construction to these we found about 
Choquillo; and very high in the frigid jalka, there are other similar 
structures. At Jalka Grande we were to find round structures iden- 
tical to those we found in our "city in the forest." But in following 
this Inca road from Huanuco northward into a little-known region, 
we had opened a whole new region of archaeological incognita* 


The Road to Chachapoyas 

For the next several days we walked through, an amazing luxuri- 
ant jungle. On both sides was a double array of towering lime- 
stone cliffs and in the center of the jungle was the plunging 
Tambillo River, along which ran the all-weather paved road of con- 
quest, its massive rock slabs quarried from the nearby cliffs still 
surviving after five centuries. 

Frequently now we met people moving along the road pallid- 
looking people racked with intermittent onslaughts of tertiary fe- 
vers. The women wore large brimmed panamas and crinoline cot- 
ton skirts and walked barefooted. The men, usually driving oxen 
which did double duty as pack animals, were sallow-faced and un- 
shaven. They were a kindly people, asking politely about us, ad- 
miring Silvia's youthful good looks, incredulous that we should 
make so long a journey merely to walk the Inca road. 

It rained heavily as we journeyed across the mountains of Puma 
Okra and the gusts of wind blew with such violence that the tired 
mules could hardly keep their footing. The storm, coming in un- 
checked from the direction of the eastern jungles which lay only a 
score of miles eastward and downward, capriciously alternated with 
sudden gleams of sunlight, and the cloud shapes floating over the 
treeless jalka hung down into the unseen jungle. 

The red earth was steaming under the rays of the triumphant sun 
as we rode into Levanto. The compact little stone-built village 
stood at the end of the plain. Back of it rose abrupt hills, tangled in 
trees and the broken masonry of ancient buildings. In the neat and 
quiet little plaza, dominated by its old church, we were met by four 
men carrying the silver-headed sticks of village officials. They 
doffed their gray llama- felt hats and in a strangely lisping Spanish 
bade us welcome to Levanto . . 

In much the same way had Alonzo de Alvarado been welcomed 
when in November 153? he arrived with his men to take over the 
rich province of Chachapoyas, his reward for his defeat of the Inca. 

20 1 

Highway of the Sun 

Only then he had been met by Inca and Chachapoyas chieftains at- 
tired in long woolen tunics, their heads festooned with golden or- 
naments. So confused were the Inca nobles at Levanto by all that 
had happened the capture and the death of their Inca and the 
official orders to place themselves at the command of the white 
man that they had offered little organized resistance. The con- 
quistadores found these Indians the "most fair and good looking 
of any . . . seen in the Indies and their women so beautiful that 
many of them are worthy to be wives of the Incas . . . Exceed- 
ingly beautiful, fair and well formed, they go about dressed in 
woolen clothes, like their husbands, and on their heads they wear a 
certain fringe." So Alvarado accepted the homage of the Indians 
"and founded the city of the frontier in a strong place called 

Now four hundred and twenty years later here around us were 
the ruins of this first Spanish settlement whose walls were now hid- 
den in thick brush. Back in the hills were other immense ruins and 
five hours from here, deep in the valley, was Chachapoyas which 
the Spaniards later sought out as a refuge from the ice-laden winds. 

The village elders, following us with a pompous show of their 
ornately decorated silver-topped staffs of office, directed us to the 
village school at the edge of the small grass plaza and there we took 
refuge from the rain. A little lady, so small that she appeared to be 
only a miniature of a human being, offered us a gentle welcome, 
shared with us her evening meal of beans and rice and gave Silvia 
the only bed. She poured out her last drop of kerosene to give us 
light when the house was whipped by the sudden storm. On this 
exposed height the winds, roaring up from the jungles which lay 
fifty miles distant and six thousand feet below us, blew shrill as 
screaming banshees about us and the rain poured down on the frail 
house as in a deluge. The rats and the bats kept up an awful din, 
but we were too exhausted to worry much about it. Tomorrow we 


The Road to Chachapoyas 

were to take yet another ride this time to the airfield at Cha 
chapoyas. But at long last we would be on our way to the coast. 

Before sleep claimed us Silvia had the last word. "At least th< 
desert will be warm. I haven't been warm in so long I don't knov 
how it will feel." 

Only the squeal of the rats answered her. 


X I I 
The Unliving Desert 

I HE LAND cannot be said to be dead, for that would imply that it 
once lived it is unliving. There is no water, no tree, no grass, 
"nor any created thing/' said a wandering Spaniard, "except birds, 
which by the gift of wings wander wherever they list." This coastal 
desert begins at Tumbes near the equatorial line to the north and 
continues southward for over two thousand miles, the entire length 
of Peru and on into the northern part of Chile, its arid, waterless 
desolation varying in width from one to a hundred miles, bound by 
the sea and the bare Andes which intrude their unclothed ribs into 
it. The mist which hangs here often dulling the glamour of the stars 
is not rain but moisture in mist-clouds like unshed tears. If this bal- 
ance is destroyed, as sometimes happens, the flood gates open and 
the flimsy mud houses of the dwellers in the valleys are dissolved as 
a child's sand castle is melted in an onrushing wave. 

When the desert day dawns mistless, it is so hot that it is noon- 
tide within the hour. No tree, no cactus, nor even canker-weed 
grows in this desiccating heat, nothing that "would exalt one in des- 
olation above Idumea." Blue sky curves to meet blue sea and no 
showers refresh this desert which like split Syrian gourds is left 
withering in the sun and beneath a torrid sky the land lies cracked 
as by a timeless drought, its one distinctive note uninhabitableness. 
"Have mercy upon me," its wailing spirit seems to say, "and send 


2 'he Unliving Desert 

Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my 
tongue for I am tormented by this heat/' 

Yet Man lived and prospered here for thousands of years, shap- 
ing a desert civilization as Man has elsewhere done in the world's 
aridity* Along the entire length of the desert coast, the score of riv- 
ers some constant, others capricious which break through the 
rock-hard Andes to flow to the ocean have made valleys which, un- 
der centuries of irrigation, have become oases in the desert. When 
as early as 3000 B.C. Man first appeared in these valleys, he found 
the land in the river valleys enriched by alluvium, the arid void 
without disease and the offshore waters well supplied with fish. Wa- 
ter was then, as now, the key to life. Man learned the techniques of 
irrigation and with long experience perfected them. He sought out 
streams high in the valleys, built elaborate aqueducts and channeled 
them to the coast and so widened the natural valleys and increased 
the areas of fertility. In time, the desert oases blossomed and thus 
early Man became the human catalyst of the desert. 

Each of these valley oases along the thousand-mile coast is sepa- 
rated by stretches of desolation. Isolation creates distinct cultures; 
and so each valley had its variant in its customs, style, and applica- 
tion, even though all shared the desert environment. All coastal 
tribes had the same husbandry: corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, pep- 
pers, yucca useful for making bread and liquor when there was a 
want of maize sweet potatoes, avocados, guavas, pineapples, star- 
apples, iron-hard algaroba-trees with a fruit "somewhat long and 
narrow and not so thick as the pods of beans," and pepinos "of very 
pleasant smell and taste/* Eventually the larger tribes which came 
into being in the better populated valleys dominated the rest with- 
out, however, altogether changing their basic cultures. 

The Incas, arriving late, conquered these coastal cultures after 
fierce and often prolonged wars, swarming down from their moun- 
tains to lay siege and eventually engulf these coastal cultures into 


Highway of the Sun 

their devouring maw. The Chimu, the greatest of these and the last 
to fall, was overwhelmed in 1465, a generation before the myrmi- 
dons of Francisco Pizarro fell upon the entire region. After that 
conquest, the Incas built "a wide road through these coast valleys 
with a strong wall on each side" which drew the widely separated 
oasis-cultures together. 

So at the height of Carnival time we came down from the bare- 
ness of life on the mountains to the bareness of life on the yunga- 
desert to find, if we could, that "wide road through the coast 

It began with a tour by air. The whole Expedition, including our 
newly arrived archaeologists, Fritz and Dorothy Riddell from the 
University of California, crowded into the single-motor Stinson 
and took to the air over the grayish void of land to gain a first 
comprehensive look at the terrain. After covering some three hun- 
dred miles during which time we filmed many of the obscure sec- 
tions, we returned to the Lima airport and prepared for an immedi- 
ate ground survey. 

With our caravan of vehicles now increased by one more for the 
personal use of the Riddells, we began the southern exploration of 
the coastal road at the rim of the city of Lima. The airport had 
once been the site of a way station on the highway which passed 
through what is now the landing field for international airlines. 

Close on Lima, Morro Solar, a Gibraltar-like rock, rises from the 
edge of the sea. At its base on the Royal Road is the Arma-tambo 
[purification bath] where Indians making the pilgrimage to the 
sacred place of Pachacamac, a few miles distant, made their ablu- 
tions before going on to the holy place. Here we lingered long 
enough for the Riddells to "take their first archaeological scent," 
then we passed on southward. 


The Unliving Desert 

Pachacamac, known today as the home place of thousands of sea 
birds, was once the dwelling place of the Creator God. The largest 
man-made pyramid in all the Americas, constructed of millions of 
sun-baked bricks cemented over and frescoed with paintings of 
birds, it had been revered as the most hallowed spot on the entire 
coast. Now it is in full decay showing only an occasional trace of 
ancient murals with here and there ruins of the houses, streets and 
walls which surrounded it. But at the time the coastal tribes flour- 
ished, Pachacamac bore so great a fame that even the Incas when 
they conquered the coast dared not change it nor the observance of 
its rituals. So Pachacamac was adopted into their pantheon of gods. 

We walked the sand-bound streets between the moldering walls 
of the buildings which had housed the priests who attended this 
great oracle, trying to imagine the life of that era. The site was not 
germane to our study of the Inca roads. Yet because the road did 
skirt the old shrine and the Riddells were anxious to poke their ar- 
chaeological noses into this famous place, we stopped briefly in this 
Inca town to which the Spaniards had sent their emissaries imme- 
diately after the Inca was captured and held for ransom. They had 
arrived, twenty steel-clad conquistadores, on January 30, 1533, to 
claim and take away ransom monies in Inca gold to the sum of 
ninety thousand pesos the equivalent of two hundred thousand 
dollars. "And the Lord of Pachacamac and the principal men came 
out to receive them." 

On the road south into the desert, we passed through several fer- 
tile valley spots which in recent times had been so thoroughly culti- 
vated that all evidence of the ancient past had been erased. Turning 
westward toward the mountains which rose up like dry bones, we 
eased our trucks over the sand until we came to the little village of 
Asia. This too had been an ancient stop on the coastal road. Now the 
little wattle-and-daub houses surrounded by gardens which had 
been painstakingly cared for in the midst of this terrible dryness 


Highway of the Sun 

had little to suggest that it had once been a famous Inca tambo. We 
found a small square, a few stores, an ocean of sand and many naked 
children as serious as gnomes., but nothing else to indicate that the 
Inca road had "marched along with a wall on each side." But as we 
were leaving, we encountered an old man and his mule who offered 
to show us where the old road had been. Seated on the fender of our 
Power Wagon, he guided us out of the oasis. He was an odd sight, 
this man, half as old as time, as from his perch he guided us 
through the desert wadis, while his sad-eyed mule ran behind us 
loudly braying his fear that we were carrying his master off. And 
so we came to the edge of the ancient pathway, and there our old 
friend, happily clutching a bottle of rum and the few empty cans 
he begged for his wife, rode off toward the village. 

The sun sank leaving a vast glory of fiery hanging clouds behind 
it. A sharp breeze came up with the night, strong enough to blow 
away such insect pests as had survived the day, and we moved the 
trucks into a holllow square, set up the awnings and prepared our 

Night on the desert has a quality all its own. During the day, 
when the desert is a furnace, a breeze, if there is one, brings only 
increased discomfort. But with the coming of night, the cool breeze 
comes up from the Pacific, there are no insects to inflict their tor- 
ment and luckily in the center of the desert there are no hungry 
dogs to be driven away from the food. With the distant western 
sky still reddened with the last of the sunset, we sat about talking 
of our next week's program. Lawrence had started the tape recorder 
and in the clear night, emptied of sound, we listened to Mozart's 
"Eine Kleine Nachtmusik." 

What we hoped to find in this low-lying area was a continuous 
stretch of road and a succession of wayside tambos. We did not be- 
lieve that we could find such a station in a pristine state, since con- 
stant gravedigging over the years had left nothing in an unrifled 


The Unliving Desert 

state. In the mountains we had had little success in finding such a 
road and its stations. But here on the coast such a chance did exist, 
for the coastal Inca road, like the salients of the caravans of the 
Middle East, moved toward water; and the passes with their halting 
stops were determined by nearness to water while the inequality of 
the distances between the tambos was conditioned by the location of 
each oasis. 

Just how had the Incas after the conquest absorbed the superior 
coastal cultures into their empire? What part of the people they 
conquered had remained? And who among them built the coastal 
road? The evidence lay buried in the structures of those dead cities 
now overwhelmed by sand. Only their graves and skeletal remains 
would reveal these clues and these bones would have to be fleshed, 
breathed into and given life. Since, as I had said, the story of a pre- 
literate people is determined largely by their artifacts and the 
changes in these artifacts, we would find careful stratigraphical ex- 
cavation a necessity. But first to find that continuing road . . . 

The days went by. We traveled in sand, we slept in sand, we ate 
sand. Yet we were finding, in our constant coursing of the desert to 
the south, that the coastal plain was not wholly sand. Although the 
immediate shore is a great sand strip and the prevailing offshore 
wind has, over the years, formed dunes as high as two thousand 
feet, there is also a pampas of hard grayish soil filled with bits of 
harsh gravel near where the foothills come to the desert's edge. On 
this the early Peruvians built their road. Where the ancient highway 
was not covered by sand drifts, we were able to follow the walls 
and so came in time to the valley of Canete, one hundred miles 
south of Lima, at a point where the valley spreads like a fan out of 
the narrow canyons of its upper reaches. Here the vegetation starts 


Highway of the Sun 

abruptly; first the desert, then a green valley made fertile by life- 
giving water from complex irrigation ditches. Much as the coast 
people lived centuries ago, the valley people live now and their 
houses, woven of reeds and indifferently roofed, are placed on the 
edge of the desert to enable them to utilize every available fertile 
strip of land. 

We were greeted courteously as we entered by a pleasant-faced 
woman of copper brown with marked Negroid features, surrounded 
by several naked children who peeked at us in open-eyed curiosity 
as they clung to her widespreading cotton skirts. Life on the coast 
is casual and easy. As it is never cold, the need for clothing is negli- 
gible. Fish can be had from the sea and that opiate the coca leaf, 
which the mountain Indian chews to numb hunger and existence, is 
not used here. The yearly crops of corn, squash, beans and peppers 
are plentiful, and if one is fortunate enough to own and irrigate a 
small piece of loam land in the sand, it can be made to yield an an- 
nual crop of cotton. Here on the coast we found the people much 
more approachable than those we had met in the interior. 

The valley, now in spring's full tide, was planted chiefly with 
cotton but later after the cotton harvest, the fields would be planted 
with corn and beans. Although modern irrigation methods have 
made the valley much larger than it was originally, the ancient 
Peruvians in their time had thoroughly mastered the art of irriga- 
tion. And it is an art. A canal system demands careful design, for 
the working level of the water determined by hydrographic condi- 
tions must be so regulated that it will flow down only a slight in- 
cline. If too fast, the water will erode the mud banks; if too grad- 
ual, the canal will be choked with weeds and the sluices and the 
embankments will need constant repair. As we drove along, we saw 
irrigation channels laid along the edges of mountain escarpments 
where it seemed scarcely possible that water could be conveyed. 

At the spot where the canyon wall of the valley met that of the 


The Unliving Desert 

river we saw the way by which the Incas had entered the valley. To 
our right was the river and along it ran the modern vehicular road. 
To our left was an aqueduct, and forty feet above it, built into the 
natural rock, was the Inca road. Superbly engineered and curving 
with the canyon wall, it connected the Royal Road of the Andes 
with the coastal road. In many of the larger valleys, too, we found 
these lateral roads always built against canyon walls high above the 

For the first time the Riddells were actually seeing one of these 
ancient roads, and though Dorothy had spent months on the re- 
search for this trip and knew the history and the location of the 
roads even better than we did, the reality was a constant source of 
wonder to her. 

Fifteen miles inland on the road we found the ruins of Inca- 
Huasi, once the largest Inca settlement on the coast. It stood on the 
sloping dry hills where the twisting river cut through the valley; a 
marked contrast with the surrounding desolation, its site covered at 
least five square miles. There were the usual houses of the Virgins 
of the Sun perched high on the hills so as to be beyond reach of the 
soldiers. There was a complex of habitat-buildings with large col- 
umns and a gigantic storage center five hundred feet square with 
two hundred and forty-eight cubicles arranged with the precision 
of beehive cells, with drying yards and guardian chambers as part 
of the storage system. What had evidently been the residence of the 
chieftains was adjacent to an enormous formal plaza six hundred 
feet long and shaped like a keystone with an altar in its center. 

In the middle of the fifteenth century the Incas began their mas- 
sive conquest of the southern coast and so the roads were extended 
down from the mountains. Some of the lesser valleys yielded after a 
short struggle but not so this valley. Chuquimancu, chieftain of 
the Chanca Confederation, in order to block the Inca advance from 
the south, threw up a stout defense which prevented the Topa Inca 


Highway of the Sun 

from coining into the lower fertile plains. The war lengthened into 
four years and the Indians who survived it were still talking about 
it when the Spaniards arrived: "It was/* they said, "a protracted 
war and though the Inca King himself retired to the mountains 
during the summer on account of the heat, his troops continued the 
fighting." It was due to the length of this siege that the Inca built 
Huasi, a city conceived on so elaborate a scale that it was called 
"New Cuzco." 

It took us some time in our continuing southward journey to 
cross the Pampa de Jaguay. Once more we traveled over an interval 
of desolation which separated valley from valley, isolating one from 
the other, forming them into individualized cultures. The desert 
was empty except for the path of the road with its standard gauge 
of twenty-four feet and a stone balustrade two feet high running 
straight across the sand-void. For us this was more than a road. It 
was an imperishable illustration of the stubbornness of Man, who 
in ages past "refused to accept his milieu as fixed and so began to 
oppose rather than endure/' 

During the day the Expedition members traveled separately. Sil- 
via and I pushed ahead in the smaller car, feeling out the road, 
stopping frequently to measure it, while behind us the Riddells 
made their observations and Lawrence, the untiring Lawrence, went 
out ahead to photograph our progress across the waste. Each night 
we met again, arranged our trucks in a hollow square and did our 
small jobs. The sand filtered into everything. Each night the cam- 
eras had to be cleaned and a close check was made on gasoline and 
water, for we were now on severe rations. So we were as delighted as 
a pilgrim seeing the towers of Mecca when we came to the wide 
green valley of the Chinchas. Like the others, it was planted with 


The Unliving Desert 

cotton, the principal crop which today is as important as it was 
under the ancient rulers. 

This was the land of the ancient tribe of Chinchas whose traces 
through the valley we had seen in the many pyramids. Near the 
Hacienda de Laran, a very old holding, we found ourselves on a 
high-walled road which because of its twelve-foot mud wall we 
knew to be pre-Inca. This might well have been built by the 
Chinchas, as a dividing line between the holdings of one tribal 
chieftain and another. Between double mud walls, our road ran a 
distance of ten miles from the sea to the mountains. 

These ancient Chinchas, warriors so formidable that <c all of the 
neighboring valleys sought friendship and alliance with them, con- 
sidering it a great honor and advantage/' roamed far and wide into 
the mountains, conquering many of the people they encountered. 
Then, returning to their coastal paradise loaded down with spoils, 
they ''gave themselves up to their pleasures and amusements with 
many women . . ." Not much is known of the Chinchas, except 
that after a stubborn resistance they, like all the rest, were rolled 
over by the Incaic juggernaut. As usual the conquerors followed 
their well-known policy of allowing their captives their own rulers 
and their own customs but insisting upon the worship of the Sun as 
the official religion. One of the last tribal lords was still alive when 
Don Pedro journeyed down this same road in 1548: "He related 
much about the wars of conquest of the Incas. For an Indian, he 
was a man of ability and good understanding. 9 * 

Beyond the walls of the road we were now traveling, adobe-block 
pyramids honeycombed the fertile land, rising up gray and strange 
out of green fields to dominate the valley. The irrigation ditches 
now encircle them, while at their base the growing cotton spreads 
out like a green carpet. After we had spent a good part of two 
days climbing around on these massive mud structures, we came to 
the conclusion that they must have always had cultivated land at 


Highway of the Sun 

their base and that these had been shrines or agricultural huacas 
belonging to a period which regarded the cultivation of the lands 
holy, and so the rituals connected with it were embodied in the 
pyramid shrine. 

Propitiatory shrines are found among many distinct cultures, for 
there was widespread belief that the aid of the supernatural forces 
was necessary for prosperity. In Mesopotamia, farmers built struc- 
tures very like these, and the Tigris Delta is spotted with shrines 
where the first fruits of harvest were stored. The gigantic tier- 
stepped Pachacamac near Lima is a huaca, as is the stone-built pyra- 
mid in Mexico at Teotihuacan. In the New World such structures 
are representative of the "most persuasive, primitive, fundamental 
and enduring religious idea," a combination of enchantment, magic 
and holy place, "a primordial synthesis" which reaches into every 
sphere of an Indian's life. 

Shortly after we left the Chinchas valley, Silvia noticed that the 
road for some time had been curving to the east. And now on our 
way to the next valley we stopped to examine the compass and 
found the road was east-southeast and by more than 1 5 degrees off 
a straight course. We were by now accustomed to the "directional 
straightness" of the Inca highway; this deviation from the straight 
line puzzled us. In front of us was the Pisco valley and, beyond, the 
thin ribbon of green from the mountain foothills to the sea was a 
solid wall of sand with immense dunes as high as one thousand feet. 
Through my binoculars I could see the wind blowing up the sand 
like seaspray. We had our answer to avoid an impassable waste 
land of sand, the Inca had laid his road to the east. 

Tambo Colorado, a few miles up the Pisco River, was like a 
painted caravan stop. Even though we had seen it from the air, we 
were amazed to find this ancient site so well preserved. The modern 
dirt highway that followed the winding valley river had burst 
through its thick adobe walls into the now familiar triangular plaza 


The Unliving Desert 

whose architecture left us in no doubt about its origin. The rec- 
tangular, precision-shaped adobe blocks laid in thick walls and 
plastered over with mud and the niche, always the hallmark of the 
Incas, were prevalent throughout. 

Tambo Colorado, the "Colored Tambo," takes its name from 
the reds, greens and whites painted in wide undulating strips still 
to be seen on its walls. On the southern side of the plaza, limited 
by the banks of the river, were quarters which, because the rooms 
are larger and built of cruder style, might well have been barracks 
for the troops; on the northern side of the plaza was a spacious 
opening, a wide entrance leading into an open area suggesting a 
corral or a meer used for the llamas. About this lay a complex of 
rooms. Here the window openings had a stepped pattern which, 
out of key with the less ornate features of Inca architecture, sug- 
gested that the conquered coastal masons might have added a local 
touch. Mural decorations are still found on top of the parapets, a 
frieze of adobe runs about the top, and some of the rooms are so 
well preserved that they need only be roofed. I know of no other 
site, save Machu Picchu, where Inca architecture can be so profit- 
ably studied. We found also the remains of a stone Inca ritual bath 
with a stone conduit running into it. This, however, was not the 
royal tampu. That was a little below at a site whose original name 
was Cangallo, while Tambo Colorado with its connecting fortresses 
was actually a check point effectively blocking the canyon, and the 
principal route to the mountain Royal Road toward Vilcas-Huaman. 
Here the valley road, the radial artery of the road system, hugged 
the north bank of the canyon walls and though varying between 
three and six feet, was wide enough for soldiers, llamas and litter 
bearers. Fifty miles farther along the valley the road climbed eight 
thousand feet to Huaytara. 

As for the southern route of the road itself, I know with cer- 


Highway of the Sun 

tainty that it had passed here and that the river had been crossed 
near Tambo Colorado by a balsa pontoon bridge. During our air 
survey, when our plane had circled the southern side of the slender 
valley and flown over its bald mountains, I had seen the road very 
clearly as it came out of the pass near Tambo Colorado and went on 
southward across the fierce windswept desert in the direction of the 
next oasis ahead. 

Once we had regained the Pan American Highway we under- 
stood why the Incas had chosen to go back up the valley in order 
to go around and avoid the fierce Pisco Desert. It was afternoon 
and the wind blew like a hurricane sending white sand whipping 
across the modern asphalt road and through the truck windows. In 
the corner a small mound gathered, grain upon grain, as if it were 
an hourglass telling the time. No man unprotected could have en- 
dured such exposure for long. Every afternoon this wind, known 
as the paraca, the exact opposite of the sirocco with its sensual 
languor, blows in from the sea. 

It was blowing now and continued to do so as we limped the 
forty miles into the oasis of lea. 


The Marked Desert 

i T WAS the season of the grape when we arrived in lea. Along the 
sand-bound paths shaded by strangler fig trees little boys rode the 
chines of their burros, balancing wicker baskets filled to overflow- 
ing with white grapes. lea was giving itself over to a grape orgy 
and there was scarcely a soul who was not involved in some fashion 
and the dusty roads looked as if Bacchus had passed. Munching 
happily at the coolly sweet grape, they were all hurrying the fruit 
from the vineyards to the presses, for the season for pressing was 

In the smaller wickerwork houses off the sand road were the 
ancient wine presses made from the twisted trunks of the guarango 
tree, a desert-growing mimosa. The vineyards date back almost to 
lea's founding and the region's special pride has long been its 
brandy known as "Pisco." 

A charming oasis forty miles from the sea, lea is bounded on 
three sides by desert and on the fourth by the towering foothills of 
the Andes. In the city itself, the streets are shaded by fig trees and 
the buildings facing the plaza are modern. The finest cotton is 
grown here and, like everything that grows the riotous gardens 
of flowers, the figs, grapes, the small produce farms it is watered 
by irrigation ditches and artesian wells. A river which is not a river 
flows through lea one week out of the year. For the other fifty-one 
weeks, children and burros romp on the dry riverbed. 


Highway of the Sun 

In the nature o things, lea would seem the most unlikely place 
to live. Precisely when Man arrived in this valley we yet do not 
know but indications are that his presence goes back as far as 
2000 B.C. Centuries ago this valley oasis was the home of what is 
now spoken of as the e 'Ica-Nasca culture" and within this desert- 
strip one hundred and fifty miles long, lying between the Pisco 
and Nasca (modern Nazca) Valleys, are some of the most fascinat- 
ing unsolved mysteries of Peru. lea, or Villa de Valverde de lea, to 
give it its sonorous ancient name, lies at the center of these mys- 
teries and directly on the path of the Inca road. 

Here, in a vine-sheltered house close to a cotton gin, we estab- 
lished our coastal headquarters. Our need for such a place was 
great, for it was high time that we stopped to tabulate the findings 
of our explorations. My notes were now piled high. Every charac- 
teristic road feature that we had seen had its individual report. The 
techniques of road engineering and geography of each region were 
to be indexed, and the data compared, before we should have the 
overall picture of the Inca highway; photographs taken as sort of a 
pictorial notebook had to be developed, and prints attached to each 
sheet; dispatches and reports months in arrears had to be written; 
Silvia's collection of costumes and textiles had to be listed, prepared 
and made safe against the expected onslaught of insects. In a mili- 
tary sense, then, we were eager to "consolidate our position.'* 

In a section of an old building once a repair station for a wood- 
burning locomotive which ran from inland lea to Pisco, its coastal 
port, Lawrence (who was soon to discover that he shared his quar- 
ters with termites) set up his film laboratory. For over a year he 
had filmed blindly, unable to see what he had taken, and although 
he made repeated tests on his cameras, he never really knew how 
much of what he had filmed was being recorded. He spent his 
nights thereafter surrounded by and peering at literally miles of 
printed film footage. The Riddells, preparing for their special dig, 


The Marked Desert 

took the whole yard in which to spread out the specialized tools 
they would use on the ruins designated for detailed excavation* 

There hovered over all of us an air of expectancy. The pressure 
remained, yet for the first time it was a leisurely pressure. In the 
Andes, we had seemed always to be engaged in a struggle against 
the cold, the food scarcity, the terrible roads with destruction 
yawning ahead at every turn. We never really relaxed it was 
tension from the first ray of sun until its last. On the coast there 
was none of this. One could drive along the desert without having 
to concentrate on every foot of the road, and its beauty could be 
seen and absorbed. Silvia and I had leisure to tour the old Spanish 
estates which had been set over ancient ruins. Sand and irrigation 
ditches were the dominating motifs. Here again all that grew de- 
pended on the water supply; a foot beyond the area watered by an 
aqueduct, the world was lifeless. Narrow and meandering sand- 
roads were, in effect, causeways that moved between sunken gar- 
dens fed by an intricate system of canals controlled by sluicegates. 
Woven-reed dwellings were half hidden under masses of climbing 
grapes, while less fortunate small villages were exposed to the broil- 
ing sun. The larger estates, rambling and imposing with their tall 
windows barred with wrought-iron window guards, stood in the 
cool shelter offered by the groves of fig trees. 

Somewhere hereabouts, in this immense latifundium of private 
holdings, we were sure was the original site of prehispanic lea, that 
place mentioned by Pedro Cieza, where "the Incas ordered palaces 
and other buildings built in the valley/' All that we had so far dis- 
covered of old lea or Tacaraca was a sandy waste and the scattered 
remains of small pyramids. It was essential that we find the original 
lea, for we had again lost the Inca road. Yet we knew, from the 
records, that lea had been an important place on the road. 

Once again, as we had done in the case of Huanuco in the Andes, 


Highway of the Sun 

we turned to the National Archives in Lima where, in ordered 
piles gathering dust and termites, is an almost complete account of 
the history of Peru dating back to its founding in 1533. Every 
piece of land taken from the Indians and given to a deserving 
Spaniard is marked by recorded legal transactions ; the purchase of 
a house or a slave, a contract, a lawsuit all these have been duly 
attested by a notary. Somehow, though threatened by civil wars, 
earthquakes, pirates, termites and fire, all, or almost all, of these 
records have been preserved. Fortunately our good genie, Don 
Felipe Marquez, for thirty years the caretaker of these holographs, 
knew where the documents we sought were, or at least should be. 
While we searched the desert, he searched the National Archives. 
Would he find in those early documents a description of the original 
lea? And if so, where did it lie? 

In time we acquired a single but important bit of information. 
A Spaniard named Juan de Barrios had been given the lea Valley 
in fief in 15*34, during the height of the Spanish conquest. At that 
time "Xapana, Chieftain of the Yungas in the land called lea, 
turned over thirteen hundred Indian vassals to this new Spanish 
lord and the valley was split into two sections Hanan [upper] 
and Urin, called lea." The records show how the lands originally 
given to Juan de Barrios filtered down to his widow; how she, 
badly pressed for money, sold the land. They told of Indians, dis- 
putes, jailing, lawsuits. Gradually out of these papers we were 
able to form a picture of colonial lea and the story of the extinction 
of the Indians, and through them we found the exact location of 
old lea. 

The bright red Piper Cub plane with its United States Army in- 
signia arrived on time and, flying low over our headquarters, it 
swooped down to attract our attention before heading for the air- 


The Marked Desert 

field. The Expedition was fortunate at this time in receiving aid 
where it was most needed air reconnaissance and the Inter- 
American Geodetic Survey of the Corps of Engineers of the United 
States Army, co-operating with the Peruvian Government in the 
preparation of an accurate ground map of all of Peru, had gra- 
ciously consented to give us the occasional use of their plane. 

I found Captain Henry Leighton servicing his small plane when 
we arrived at the sand-bound airport. Once a paratrooper and a 
career Army man, Leighton had been attached to the Army En- 
gineers, was commissioned on the field of battle in Korea, and in 
time was transferred to the United States Army Engineers Air 
Corps and sent to Peru. The history of the road and the paradox of 
a primitive people who had developed a highway system which 
eclipsed in its length and engineering those of other highly civilized 
nations had greatly intrigued Leighton. Once he joined in the 
search, he became one of the ablest of our collaborators. That the 
view from the air could not be omniscient, Leighton and I agreed 
as we set off to explore the roads by plane. Yet it would give us, 
who were by necessity landbound, a different perspective and so 
save us much valuable time. 

This was a day of an extraordinary air luminosity making the 
hulking sand dunes, the sky, and the blue sea with its fringe of 
breakers plainly visible. Every abrasion in the desert was apparent, 
and the straight line of the ancient roadbed, except when it was 
completely erased, was clearly defined. In a moment, seemingly, we 
were over the Bay of Paracas, fifty miles northwest of lea. We 
looked down at the extending peninsula shaped like a broken ax- 
head jutting out into an agitated sea ruffled by the paraca. 

Almost at once we saw the gigantic symbol of Tres Cruces. 
Etched into the inclining sandhill on the cliffs of the bay, it stood 
out clearly and enigmatically, six hundred and two feet high. A 
naturalist would say that the strange device looked like a giant 


Highway of the Sun 

candelabra cactus: an archaeologist would recognize it as the "tree 
of life" symbol, which appears with amazing frequency in Peruvian 
designs; while to a religionist interested in anthropomorphic ex- 
planations for every natural phenomena, this impressive design is 
the Three Crosses. 

Leighton, who held the plane directly above it, shouted over the 
howl of the wind that the symbol seemed to point directly north- 
south and that it oddly resembled the elaborate north symbol on a 
compass. Made by Indians who scooped out the sand to a depth of 
four feet, et Tres Cruces" lies against the slanting face of a cliff 
pitched at a sixty-degree angle, and faces the Bay of Paracas. Over 
the years the action of the salt -laden sea has hardened the sand, and 
this, in turn, the wind action has constantly blown in and out of 
the deeply eroded ditch which is, so we were told, upwards of two 
thousand years old. 

"What purpose did this symbol serve? "Why did it face the sea and 
why directly north -south? "Was it to guide seaborne balsa rafts to 
this, the richest bay in sea fauna in all the area, or was it for some 
other purpose? 

Over and back of this inclining cliff toward which Leighton di- 
rected the plane was the colored sandhill of Cerro Colorado. There, 
in deep stone-lined caverns, four hundred and twenty-seven 
mummy bundles were found by a Peruvian archaeologist which, 
when freed from their swathing clothes, yielded the most star- 
tling fantastic weavings ever found in all the Americas. The mum- 
mified bodies topped by false heads had been dressed at burial in 
simple tunics, and then clothed with embroidered mantles, ponchos, 
shirts and turbans, all decorated with multicolored embroidery. 
Even as we now glided over the sand with our small plane casting a 
shadow like the outstretched pinions of a condor, we could see a 
macabre scattering of human bones left behind by the grave rob- 
bers who had ravished the dehydrated dead of their rich robes. 


The Marked Desert 

Not much is known of the people o this necropolis. Had they 
come from Pisco, lea or Nasca? The elaborately stylized designs 
were characteristic of the Nasca Valley peoples, but where then 
had been the production center from which such embroidered 
mantles had come? There are no remains of their dwellings, only 
evidence that they lived temporarily on the Bay of Paracas, subsist- 
ing on fish and seaweed while they prepared their dead. In what 
way is the Tree of Life symbol etched into the sand related to them? 
Was it a guide to those who brought the dead from the sea? 

The amazing similarity between the mummification of the an- 
cient Peruvian dead and the Egyptians shows clearly that similar 
environments will nurture similar cultural patterns. For both cul- 
tures, death was an exact replica of life and the continuance of life 
after death depended on the well-being of the corpse. The dead were 
believed to carry off the living to comfort their loneliness and 
therefore, being hostile to the living, they had to be propitiated; 
and the things of their lives food, animals, servants, even 
w ives had to be buried with them. So were the dead appeased. 
Occasionally they were revisited, as in the case of the caverns of 
Paracas, where archaeological evidence shows that the mummies 
were frequently disinterred and perhaps redressed in those gorgeous 
embroidered mantles. 

Had the Incas, knowing of these people, run a lateral road to the 
Bay of Paracas? Were the rich caverns of the Paracas dead known 
to them? If so, the desert beaten by the fierce offshore paraca wind 
gave little evidence. 

Suddenly Leighton shouted: "Look! Is that a road down there?" 
Looking down, I saw that the plane was flying above a parallel line 
in the desert. We went down until when the plane leveled off, we 
were little more than two hundred feet above it. There was no 
doubt that it was a road. "A people," wrote a Frenchman, "is like a 


Highway of the Sun 

man. When he has disappeared, nothing is left of him unless he has 
taken the precaution to leave his imprint on the stones of the road." 
Was this an "imprint," this road that moved directly between the 
necropolis of Cerro Colorado southeast toward the valley of lea, 
fifty miles distant? We were now flying directly over the road. We 
could even make out the ruins of some sort of small buildings by 
the roadside. In our travels we had seen thousands of miles of an- 
cient roads, Inca and pre-Inca, and by this time I knew the salient 
features. Leighton cleverly flew his plane so that the shadow of the 
wings overlapped the road, and having the exact measurement of 
the wingspread, we estimated that the road was not much more 
than twelve feet wide. This was not Inca construction. What, then, 
was it? Had this been the road over which the people, at some time 
in the first century, carried their dead for burial in the desiccating 
sands about the Bay of Paracas? If this -was the pre-Inca Paracas 
road, it would definitely tie these people of mystery to those widely 
spaced valleys of Pisco, lea and Nasca. 

The road continued. It climbed a hill marked on my map as 
Cerro Burros Muertos, "Mountain of the Dead Mules," then grew 
faint in the ubiquitous sand and, within ten miles of the green 
oasis of the Valley of lea, it disappeared completely. Days later we 
sought it on the ground but we never again found the mysterious 
road that led toward the caverns of Paracas. 

At high noon, with the plane pitching in the hot air of the desert 
like a small boat in an upwelling sea, we were again flying directly 
over the Inca road. Now, south of lea, we saw below us the utter 
desolation of the desert-pampas of Hualluri. The grayish-white 
wastelands had nothing of life except an occasional writhing mark 
where water, thousands of years ago in some curious reversal of 
Peru's arid nature, had coursed down from the mountains. Across 


The Marked Desert 

this, moving in a southeast direction at precisely 165 degrees, the 
Inca coastal road moved along with not a variation of a degree. We 
surmised that the water marks had been there long before the road 
was laid down. 

How had I known where to look for the road? Leighton asked 
this as we flew over the newly found road. I explained how 
experience had shown us that, while the Inca highway was not al- 
ways unalterably straight, it did have what was called a directional 
straightness. In other words, it always ran in a straight line between 
two given cities or way stops. Four centuries of intense civilization 
had obliterated the road here in the Valley of lea, but by our 
searching of the early documents we had managed to locate the 
original site of the Inca city. We also knew that the next stop on 
the road south of lea had been the place called by the Spaniards La 
Venta or La Ventilla which meant the Little Roadside Inn. This 
had been a small stop, midway between lea and a wide expanse of 
desert. Also the next stop on the road mentioned in the old chron- 
icles was "Huayuri," or ^Uuayurl pueblo tambo rreal" as the six- 
teenth century Poma de Ayala described it. That this had been a 
tampTi, on the missing road was confirmed by yet another chronicler 
who noted: "Fourteen leagues [fifty miles] south of lea is the 
Huayuri Valley small and sandy." These localities we had found on 
the Peruvian military maps which we used, so, by drawing a 
straight line on the map between La Venta and Huayuri, and then 
taking our bearings, we had determined that the road we were now 
flying over was the Inca road. 

"Well, 111 be damned!" Leighton's astonished voice came back to 
me over the intercom when I finished my explanation. 

Now the Inca road and the Pan American Highway ran along 
parallel to each other for some miles, but when the modern highway 
bore due east so as to take a gradient over a mountain ahead, the 
Inca road kept going straight on. It was a wonderful thing to see, 


High-way of the Sun 

more wonderful from the air than it would have been had we been 
crawling along the stifling desert sand. Death must have often 
walked that highway. "Up to the Huayuri Valley is all sandy 
desert," wrote a padre who had traveled over it by mule, "and the 
Indians usually start out in the evening to cross during the night, 
for the great heat during the day is apt to kill many of the animals 
and one has to be a very good driver or expert in the following of 
the route or take a guide for it often happens that people get lost 
in these sandy wastes . . ." 

We traced the road to a thin line of green and a cluster of 
modern buildings that stood just above it. Where the escarpments 
of the mountain range began were the ruins of what had been the 
tamp^i of Huayuri. Just ahead of us loomed jagged mountains, 
towering four thousand feet high, looking as if a piece of kraft 
paper had been taken and crumbled up, and in these we looked for 
the pass the road might have taken. 

Suddenly I tapped Leighton's shoulder and pointed. We both 
gazed in excited wonder. Below us, a lifeless city of sizable houses 
with stone walls and small chambered divisions lay in a hidden 
valley a mile or more distant to the oasis. There were at least five 
hundred such houses, clustered about the dry valley, along with 
the remains of formal plazas and hills terraced as if crops had 
grown there; and on the mountaintops were still more buildings. 
Even from this height I surmised and I later confirmed by ex- 
cavation that we were looking down on the only known intact 
city of the Ica-Nasca cultures, whose people had preceded the Inca 
on this coast. 

How had any people lived in this wilderness of desolation so dry 
that it would not even support cactus or lichens in the bare rock? 
By the number of houses, a thousand or more people must once 
have lived here. Where had the water been drawn from and where 
in this barren height had been the soil to grow their crops? 


The Marked Desert 

We found the pass which must, in a later time, also have been 
used as an Inca route through the mountains. Then in a matter oi 
minutes our plane had passed over the mountainous upthrust, and 
without prelude we burst upon a vividly green valley. I had just 
located the ruins of what certainly was the ancient halting station 
on the road, when Leighton spoke excitedly over the headphones: 
"Ahead, on that flat pampa, look at the lines . . ." 

Below us stretching out in all directions on the flat gray plain o 
flint rock was a vast network of drawn lines. A series of rectangles 
as wide as airfields and long straight lines some originating from 
a single complex, others from no source at all went off in every 
variant of the compass to fade away at the end into nothing. There 
were lines, triangles, circles of all sizes appearing at frequent inter- 

As we looked down fascinated at the bewildering maze spread 
beneath us, we realized that we were looking at yet another of the 
great mysteries of the southern Peruvian deserts, this time at the 
so-called "Lines of Nasca." 

Unknown until recently and not easily seen from the ground, it 
was not until airlines began to fly over this route that they were 
first noticed. There are several theories concerning their origin, all 
contradictory. One the popular one was that they led to 
buried Nasca treasures, another that they had to do with the riddle 
of the mummies of the Bay of Paracas. But when the lines were 
traced and measured by Fraulein Maria Reiche, who has made a 
searching study of the phenomena, it was found that they led 
neither to treasures, nor to mummies nor to forgotten cities. In- 
stead, the theory gradually being substantiated is that they are con- 
nected with ancient magico-calendaric ceremonies, and were the 
handiwork of the people of the Nasca cultures. 

Somewhere between A.D. 500-900, an Andean people of the Tia- 
huanaco Empire, which centered about Lake Titicaca, invaded the 


Highway of the Sun 

coastal areas as the Incas were to do hundreds of years later and 
greatly influenced the cultures of the Nasca peoples by their interest 
in astrology, including the development of a solar calendar and the 
determining of the solstices. It is said that one of the Tiahuanacan 
chieftains "who lived in continual melancholy, without anyone see- 
ing him laugh in all his reign . . . called a great assembly of his 
wise men and astrologers . . . and they studied the solstices with 
care. 3 ' They also perfected a shadow clock "by which they knew 
which days were long and which were short and when the sun went 
to and returned from the tropics/' It is not altogether impossible 
that this sort of interest in the heavens was transplanted to the 
desert coastal people who for some unknown purpose laid out the 
mysterious "Lines of Nasca." 

But it was not until Leighton brought his bright red Piper down 
to an altitude of five hundred feet that we first saw the animal de- 
signs, those amazing traceries which could not be distinguished 
from high altitudes. They were so extraordinary a sight that I began 
then and there to write my next dispatch to the New York. Times: 


Gigantic Drawings They Made of Animals in Peru 
Discovered from Plane 

Ingento, Nasca Valley, Peru, March 24, 1954 We followed 
the pre-historic Inca road over the Nasca Valley, and it led us 
to a modern art exhibit. 

The figures we saw from our plane etched in the valley's 
pampa Colorado could have been the tortured drawings of a 
Salvador Dali. But they were as much as 500 feet in length 
and the "canvas" of the ancients was the desert's coarse sand. 
Moreover the drawings were upward of 1,500 years old. 

The mysterious lines in the Nasca Valley have puzzled ev- 
eryone especially the archaeologists, who offer no precise ex- 
planation. . . . There are also gigantic figures of animals, 


The Marked Desert 
birds and insects along with abstract figures of geometrical 


Over the communications system Captain Leighton asked 
me if I had ever seen anything like it. It suggested to me Amer- 
ica's Ohio Valley and Southwest. 

For an hour above the desert we attended this ancient- 
modern art show. We counted more than fourteen gigantic 
drawings. There was one immense figure, at least 200 feet long, 
of a whale drawn in extreme naturalism. A harpoon went 
through its eye. 

Long roads of varying widths radiated in all directions about 
it. Then we came across a bird (was it an eagle or a humming- 
bird?) more than 500 feet long. With wings spread, it seemed 
to be diving. 

Near it were other figures abstractions, symmetrical and 
geometrical patterns. Then, farther on, "Spider" came the 
word over the microphone. There was no doubt about it; eight 
legs (one of which became a road) ; the rounded body; it had 
been drawn with boldness and simplicity. 

It was a weird afternoon, flying around drawings which 
primitives had etched into the desert many hundreds of years 
ago, which they themselves never fully saw. . . . How could 
they have? The lines, yes, for they move along for miles; but 
the animals' figures no. Only by hovering at rooo feet di- 
rectly above them could they be seen clearly. 

Then what purpose did they serve, and what are they? What- 
ever they are and one woman, Fraulein Maria Reiche, has 
given five years of her time tracing them out without coming 
to any definitive conclusions they are part of the gigantic 
series of mysteries of the Nasca Desert. 

Yet these lines and figures must have meant little to Inca coj 
querors. They, who had ruled the straight line into Peruvis 
thought, paying no more attention to these symbols than the 
would to a flight of birds had laid their twenty- four-foot wi< 
coastal road right through the lines and the figures. 


Highway of the Sun 

Days later the Expedition drove on toward the ruins of Acari 
in the valley of the same name on the southern coast. The Riddells 
and I had made a careful study of the aerial pictures showing sec- 
tions of the Inca road as it entered the site of Acari and emerged 
again to crawl over immensely high sand dunes to the next valley. 
My aerial reconnaissance has shown that there were at least four 
Inca halting stations in succession, all of which had been mentioned 
by early Spanish chroniclers, and that they were joined by the 
highway which was plainly visible at many sections. The Power 
Wagon was packed to overflowing with what the Riddells needed 
for their proposed stay in the desert tents and generator, food 
and gasoline, water drums and camping equipment. Fritz Riddell, 
an accomplished archaeological-draughtsman, stowed away all the 
technical equipment he would need to map their search into the 
past, while Dorothy, who was also a specialist in pottery and pottery 
techniques, arranged all the paraphernalia necessary for a thorough 
study of the lives of those who had peopled an Inca tampu. 

So down we went to the south, following the Inca road through 
the first valleys of La Nasca, whose gemlike strips of green were 
sandwiched between the desolate dry hills. We passed through 
groves of guarangos. An early priestly wayfarer wrote of those 
groves of trees, cc On the Nasca road there are five leagues of these 
woods, so thick that the Inca's highway is the only way to get 
through them, and one sees nothing but trees and the sky ..." 

After we had traveled two hundred and fifty miles, through 
alternating deserts and narrow valleys, in the course of which we 
located and identified every successive halting station on the coastal 
southern road, 1 and still following the Inca road with its rock-wall 

1 The first, just outside of lea, was La Venta, now a hacienda; the 
next, twenty-seven miles across the desert, was Huayuri, a hacienda with 
ruins of the ancient tampu above its modern houses. Over the mountains 
we found the ruins of Chillo; and at the edge of the third Valley of Nasca, 
at Ingenio, the Sugar Mill, a large and formal tampu and administrative 


The Marked Desert 

balustrade and smooth even surface, we came at last to the high 
Cerros of Chocovento. Below this in a narrow valley held by high 
walls of white sand was Acari. 

On the dry desert edge of the irrigated land of Acari, herds of 
cattle whose ribs were as plainly visible as the keys of a xylophone 
stood about a pool of noisome water looking thin and hungry. The 
mules which we had passed in large herds seemed contrariwise to 
thrive on the meager rim of land, their bodies were sleek and shiny. 
A handful of men, standing by their mounts, watched the mating 
of a pair of mules with much ribaldry. 

An elderly man mounted on a roan stallion volunteered to lead 
us to the ruins we had sighted off on the descending road directly 
in line with Acari. We drove along asking many questions of our 
guide which he answered with a soft Negro labial which we could 
not quite place, but his face was that of a full-blooded Negro. As 
our trucks, in grinding low gear tried to stay with the slow pace 
of the cantering horse, his specious tales seasoned with old saws of 
Inca gold, mysterious subterranean chambers, and underground 
roads, gave us some pleasant entertainment. Arrived at the great 
mounds of raped stone with the fallen adobes, he raised his hat 
with simple dignity, wished us a happy sojourn among the ghosts 
of the past and rode off, leaving us to follow the Inca road into the 
formal plaza. 

Acari had been well chosen for its position. It stood on a high 
bluff overlooking the river with below it the town, the valley and 

center which was anciently called Tambo de Collao. Fifteen miles south 
of this station was the principal Valley of Nasca and on the south bank 
of the river were the gigantic remains of the formal Inca city now called 
Paredones, "but then known as Cassamarca." It was not only a station on 
the coastal road, but was also used as a supply point on the much-used 
lateral road which connected the coastal highway with the Royal Road 
of the Andes. 


Highway of the Sun 

the river, and beyond this the high-rising dunes with the Inca road 
still visible zigzagging up the sand to the other valley. All around 
the town, the land was in cultivation and the people, now as then, 
were growing cotton, corn, beans, squash, tomatoes and peppers in 
much the same place and manner as they had done centuries ago. 

The Riddells selected the highest pyramid upon which to put 
their camp. The constant wind from the sea eighteen miles away 
would blow away the mosquitoes and in addition they had a fine 
panorama of the ruins below. The whole day was used to set up 
their headquarters. Curious villagers of a variety of skin hues gave 
us a willing hand and soon the tent and equipment were rolled into 
place and water procured in barrels from the river. Although most 
of the buildings were in ruins, the Riddells were eager to begin put- 
ting their puzzle together. The ruined buildings, the ancient kitchen 
middens, the shards of broken ceramics that littered the ground 
above and below the surface would provide them with the necessary 
pieces but they would have to work with speed, for even as they 
established themselves, men were pulling down the ruins to obtain 
the adobe. Amazing as it may seem, after five hundred years the 
rectangular sun-dried bricks were still in such perfect condition 
that townspeople found it easier to take them from the ruins than 
to make new adobe blocks. 

Peru has little protection for its ancient structures and the time 
is not too far distant when nothing will be left of ancient man 
above the ground. The good padre Vasquez de Espinosa, who came 
from Spain to the village of Acari in 1618 and whose writings we 
now consulted regularly, would not recognize Acari today, so com- 
plete is its destruction. "Acari," he wrote then, "is a village of one 
hundred Indians and forty Spaniards who live here together." 

A Carmelite traveling on the Bishop's business, Vasquez, like our 
other friends of the road, kept a journal. He had visited Ecuador 
and Mexico and in 1617 arrived in Peru where he set off, sometimes 


The Marked Deserf 

walking, sometimes riding an outsized mule, along the way of the 
Inca. It might be said of this journal which has only recently 
been published that it gives details of the last audible breath of 
the Inca. Wayfaring along this same sand-bound road we were now 
traveling, he came into Acari and there he found "many curious 
buildings of the ancients and they should always remain the same 
because it never rains. . . ." The good padre had forgotten about 
Man the Destroyer. 

This one sentence of Vasquez de Espinosa's was all that the Rid- 
dells had of Acari's history. The rest they would have to find in 
the things of the graves. 

As we climbed the hill to continue our southward journey, the 
Riddells raised the blue ensign of the American Geographical So- 
ciety. We looked back to see the motto U B I Q u E spread out on 
the breeze. 

X I V 
Chala: the Fourth Quarter 

I HE GREAT ROAD of the Incas passed through all these valleys," 
wrote Cieza during a rare moment's pause in his flight from the 
furnace heat of the desert, "and in some parts of the desert, signs 
may be seen to indicate the road that should be taken." 

That, however, was in the time of the Incas. Now there is no 
such thing as a sign and we had to find the remains of the road as 
best we could by careful inquiry and search. The term "coastal 
road" here is only a relative term, for the Inca road, in order to 
avoid the terrifying desert, had been built inland and over the 
mountains. From Acari it passed over a 3ooo-foot mountain of sand 
and rock called Cerro de Mendoza after the Conqueror of Acari, 
one Pedro de Mendoza. Across the Mountain of Mendoza, the road 
after fifteen miles drops down into the Jaqui valley. A more fright- 
ful desolation we had never seen. Canyons were slashed by dry river- 
beds like the wadis of Africa, and sand dunes 3000 feet high were 
so dazzling in the sun that we could not look at them with the 
naked eye. 

It was simple animal economy that made the Inca engineers put 
their road inland. The coast here at the Desert of Tanaca has a per- 
petual wind which blows so fiercely that the sand dunes form and 
disappear almost as one watches. For fifteen miles the sand builds 
up in monstrous waves and back as far as ten miles from the sea at 


Chala: the Fourth Quarter 

the foothills, the dunes climb up to peaks of three thousand feet. 
No living thing can withstand this desert. Even the modern road 
is eternally besieged by sand and a work crew is kept on duty night 
and day to keep it open. 

A few miles south of Acari between the modern Pan American 
Highway and the sea, a distance roughly three miles, we saw how 
the intervening land in a series of ancient agricultural terraces 
descended as by a flight of giant steps to the sea. 

We had come to the "Hills of Atiquipa," the only place in the 
entire two thousand, five hundred miles of coast where plants grow 
without irrigation and where it rains with seasonal regularity. It 
was well known to the early Spaniard that ct at the very end of the 
valley by the sea rise the Atiquipa lomas where there is good graz- 
ing, the best in the kingdom." 

On looking back, we could see the agricultural terraces continu- 
ing for miles southward between the modern road and the sea. We 
passed herds of fine-looking cattle and, at the Hacienda Parcoy 
where, in the midst of incredible squalor, people were flaying a still 
half-living sheep, we inquired the way to the ancient stronghold 
we had sighted on the highest hill. 

The "hill" turned out to be a mountain 4720 feet high, but the 
heated climb to the ruins of Cahua Marca was counterbalanced in 
a measure a small miracle by the fact that the hills were actu- 
ally shaded by trees. 

Why does the rain fall here at this pin-point on the map and no- 
where else on the entire coast of Chile and Peru? Silvia asked our 
guide this question and he smiled toothlessly as he answered that it 
was because it rained only in God's domain which was a good 
enough answer for one whose religion is his only pastime. Above 
that he did not know. But he did say that rains came from the di- 
rection of the mountain from August to October, and from the sea 

Highway of the Sun 

during January and February. What was there about these hills o 
Atiquipa that made them the one exception to the fact that it never 
rains on this two thousand mile long coast? The answer seems to lie 
in the fact that the entire coast is bathed by a cool 58 ocean cur- 
rent which, beginning in the Antarctic and owing its origin chiefly 
to the prevailing westerly winds and the meteorological whirl of 
the eastern South Pacific, moves in a stream one hundred and fifty 
miles wide for a distance of three thousand miles. The cold current 
lowers the temperature of the air that moves across it, and since its 
capacity for heat exceeds the air, rain never falls, or almost never. 
Yet at the Atiquipa lomas as one can see from the trees, the grass 
and the long stretches of agricultural terraces it rains through 
every season. Whatever the reason, the Incas took full advantage 
of it. 

Cahua Marca itself covered the rounded top of the mountain. 
Here the houses were strung in orderly fashion along the narrow 
streets and there was a formal plaza with a ruined Sun Temple and 
dwellings with gable roofs and those typical Inca trapezoidal 
niches. The buildings, although crude and rustic, were much the 
same as those at Machu Picchu with rounded storage bins, un- 
derground water wells and outside of the city proper, a large 
rounded burial chullpa, a catacomb of femurs and skulls. Still 
known by its original name, Cahua Marca [View Town] is only a 
little less than 5000 feet above sea level and is the highest point on 
the entire three hundred mile coastal road south of Lima. From this 
vantage spot, fire signals and smoke signals could have been seen 
for many miles in every direction. To complete the strategic pic- 
ture, I could see the Inca road plainly through my binoculars as it 
passed through the canyons, climbed the eroded hills of El Atajo 
and moved toward us. Silvia and I stood on the edge of the ruins. 
Below was the desert of the Arenal de Tanaca where nothing that 


Chala: the fourth Quarter 

lived could have endured the day, but here on the height the breeze 
was bracing and, when the sun was obscured, actually cold. For 
what purpose then had Cahua Marca served? 

"Why not as a reconditioning center for the llamas?" asked 

And why not? It was a question which if answered might explain 
the existence of this stone-built city. We knew that llamas were 
extensively used for coastal traffic from the evidence of the mummi- 
fied llamas decorated with such "dated" trappings as the scarlet 
fringe that Indians hung over their eyes to keep out the sun glare 
and from the use of the llama as decorative motifs on ceramics 
which pre-date the Incas by a thousand years. 

The llama is the most stylized, the most preposterous animal in 
Nature's book. It has a camel's head and large eyes, a split nose, a 
hare lip, two-toed feet which look cloven but are not. Its usual gait 
is as leisurely as that of a grande dame entering a salon, but it can 
also leap like a deer and, when stampeded, will run as fast as a 
train an Andean train. Along with the camel, to which it is re- 
lated, the llama has an amazing history. As the camel was used on 
the ancient Chinese Silk Roads as a beast of burden, so the llama 
was used on the Inca roads. 

The earliest ancestor of the llama and the camel belonged to a 
primitive proto-cameloid stock of North America, fossils of which 
are found only in North America. Yet where the camel was a 
rarity in the deserts of Africa until the fifth century, by that time 
the llama was well established in Peru as an animal inured to the 
heights as well as the desert. Wherever the Indian moved, there 
the llama went. Beyond the confines of the Inca realm, it did not go. 

To the native, the llama offers a means of transportation, for al- 
though weighing only three hundred pounds, it can carry as much 
as one hundred and twenty-five pounds for a distance of six to ten 


highway of the Sun 

miles a day. In addition, its wool is made into blankets, the coarse 
hair into charqui, the equivalent of our western "jerky"; taqui, its 
dung, is used for fuel; and, if legend be credited, there has been 
and still is a zoophilous relation between llama and man. 

Although the llama never equals the camel's weight of a full ton 
nor its ability to carry fifteen hundred pounds, it has the same 
tenacity to withstand the diversity of climate extremes. The llama 
can live above the perpetual snow line and it will also live, although 
it will not reproduce, in Peru's desert. And that they once were 
very common on the coast we know from the llama bones found in 
Indian graves. When young, they make delightful pets charm- 
ing, inquisitive and affectionate; and, when traveling in a herd, 
their necks moving with each step, their hindquarters all rising 
as if on a single note, there is a contrapuntal balance of tension that 
ties them together as in a fugue. That they suffered horribly in the 
desert heat, where their thick wool and their inability to sweat fre- 
quently turned a desert trip into a death march, there is evidence 
enough. In the furnace-hot valley of Jaqui just over the ridge on 
which we were sitting, hundreds of mummified llamas had been 
found dead for want of fresh fodder and breath with which to 
combat the hot wind. 

So Cahua Marca, with its high altitude, its invigorating cold and 
its grass, was doubtless, as Silvia observed, a reconditioning center 
for multitudes of pasturing llamas. Here their foot pads, worked to 
a quick from the journey across the empty way of the desert, could 
be restored and their bodies fattened. Even the character of the ru- 
ins made this seem probable. Although on the Inca road, Cahua 
Marca had neither the formal plaza nor the architectural polish of 
other administration centers. There were no elaborate Sun Tem- 
ples, and such pottery as we found was utilitarian, the kind a 


Chala: the Fourth Quarter 

woman uses in her cooking. The clothing suggested natives of a 
humble social order; the burials were communal; the number of 
storage chambers (out of proportion to the population) suggested 
that food was stored for wayfarers on the road or else for transport 
to the mountains; the dwellings were rustic and utilitarian in style 
and had doubtless been occupied by a people from the mountains 
who knew llama husbandry. 

So here was another link in the pattern we searched for, one 
which indicated that in this oddly isolated city with its familiar ag- 
ricultural terraces, we had traced the Inca civilization down from 
the heights to the coastal area. 

Some miles ahead over the boulder-strewn land and hard upon 
the coast, we walked along a magnificent section of the road. The 
sea breeze of the Pacific less than a mile away cooled the day -heat 
and where a dry canyon slashed the plain, the road swept down to 
it in a magnificent flight of stone steps so well preserved that an In- 
dian need only employ a broom to clean off five centuries of sand- 
drift. In a stretch of ten miles we found every engineering charac- 
teristic of the road terraced walls, stone stairways, rock-fill to 
even the way, remains of chasqui stations, a tomb-shaped stone 
marker or topo of distance all important features on the Inca 
road system. 

One of the most fascinating aspects in any journey of explora- 
tion is the element of discovery involved. Not the accidental kind 
such as an ant employs when some instinct of formic memory 
causes it to plod tirelessly back and forth until, by sheer elimina- 
tion of space, it stumbles across an object it is searching for. But 
discovery which has been arrived at by the use of such foreknowl- 
edge and experience as makes it probable that in a specific spot there 


Highway of the Sun 

is this or that to be found. Such revelation is the pabulum of an 
explorer. When all is said and done, what is archaeology but a tre- 
mendous mystery? 

Given the scale here the whole of South America we had 
our plot: how had these people arrived; in what, where and when 
and who eliminated whom? "We had the exposition: the styles of 
pottery, architecture, utensils, figures on the desert, gold-spangled 
mummies. And for stage setting: the scenery the overwhelming 
Andes, the jungles, the desert coast, the strange radiating lines in 
the desert and giant symbols carved into sides of sand-cliffs. And 
last, we had suspense . . . 

Such was the pattern of our thinking as we stood looking out 
across the Acari valley. On the other side of the canyon, the road 
turned a well -engineered curve of forty-five degrees and moved 
due east up the dry canyon. We were by now too well acquainted 
with Inca psychology not to know that when they built other than 
on a straight line it was for good purpose. Ahead of us and a mile 
or so back from the highway, lying close to a crescent-shaped 
beach, we saw a large cluster of buildings, evidently the ruins of a 
fishing village, with interesting low-roofed structures which ap- 
peared to be storage chambers. 

Here then were our clues Cahua Marca where llamas were re- 
conditioned, miles of agricultural terraces, a magnificently made 
road, a fishing village with large storage chambers, and the deviat- 
ing road turning due east toward the Andes. All this was no acci- 
dent, not "just there." As Dr. Raoul Porras Barranachea, Peru's emi- 
nent historian of the Spanish conquest, had stated it: ''Why did 
Francisco Pizarro when he was trying to establish the vague out- 
lines of his kingdom in Peru and was warring with his partner in 
rapine, Almagro the Blinkard, push his claim beyond the official 
line set at Chincha and want to include a place to the south known 
vaguely as Vilcaroca?" 


Chala: the Fourth Quarter 

Where was this mysterious region? For that matter, where did 
the Inca get his fresh fish from the sea in two days* time? Where in 
all Peru was the most direct route to Cuzco from the sea? "Silvia/* 
I remember saying with mock heroics. "Hear this! I think this is 
the missing section of the 'world' the Cuntu-suyu road, the one 
that leads from Cuzco to the sea." 

At the end of the ravine we came to the ruins of the ancient fish- 
ing village. Here were the stone dwellings with their gabled roofs 
of the same type as those which crowned the heights of Cahua- 
Marca and the underground bottle-shaped storage bins, ten or more 
feet deep. Apart from the main village was a structure two hun- 
dred feet long, proportionately wide, with high walls and a formal 
entrance, the remains of what must have been a guardhouse; and 
within, sixteen enormous storage chambers intact with stone roofs. 
It was the only complete structure we had found in all Peru. In the 
shadow of these ruins I wrote a report to the Riddells urging them 
to consider Chala their next project once they had finished with the 
tampn of Acari. Even then I did not realize its full importance. 

The next day Captain Leighton's bright red plane made an es- 
say of the emergency landing field at Chala. Swooping down close 
enough to whisk away the remaining hairs from my head, he turned 
about and came in for a landing. From the airfield we could see to 
the south the three mile beach and the modern town of Chala, look- 
ing like an early American frontier village. To the north was the 
thin line of the descending Inca road and, on the bluff, the remains 
of what had been the tampu of the Imperial coastal highway. 

I was elected to make the flight since I was to photograph out of 
the cockpit and the plane could only carry one passenger. Leighton 
was briefed, I climbed into the parachute harness, and we were up 
and gone. We located the ravine, and after I had photographed the 


Highway of the Sun 

ruins and the road, I saw again the trace of the turn-off. Leighton, 
like a blood-hound having been given a scent, was off. As we 
mounted, I explained what we had found and how we had found it. 

Our course set northeast, we followed the dry canyon, and there 
was the road! Within five minutes we were flying over altitudes of 
five thousand feet and the road and the landscape were gray and 
desolate. Within fifteen minutes from the coast the hills were green 
and small farms began to appear and the ancient road had disap- 
peared. But over the vacant puna, still flying due northeast toward 
Cuzco, we picked it up again. Then we were over Lake Parinacochas, 
round and not much more than ten miles in diameter. Around it 
were small farms and at its eastern edge rose Mt. Sarasara, its ser- 
rated cone encrusted with snow. Oddly the shores looked black 
with people until we swooped down and the people turned into 
hundreds of flamingos. It is from these beautiful birds that the lake 
takes its name Farina [flamingo] cocha [lake]. At the north- 
west corner we saw the ruins of Inca structures, agricultural ter- 
races curved to the natural contours of the hills, some of them still 
being used. Then we saw the road leading out from the ruins in the 
direction of Cuzco one hundred and seventy miles away. 

"Why not follow the road to Cuzco?" I shouted. 

In answer Leighton pointed to the gasoline gauge. Dangerously 
low, the high altitudes were rapidly emptying the reserve tank and 
the last I saw of the Cuntu-suyu road was when we banked to clear 
a flock of high flying flamingos. But I was satisfied that we had 
found the missing quarter that made up the Inca Empire and the 
great road which had traversed one of the four quarters the 
Cuntu-suyu. Another piece of the puzzle had fallen into place. 

A half hour later the motor coughed, spluttered and died with a 
sharp report just as our wings cleared the last western peak of the 


Cbala: the 'Fourth Quarter 

Andes. Ahead was the blue sea and the line of the exploding surf. It 
was no longer necessary to talk over the intercommunication phone. 
It was as quiet as eternity save for the hiss of the air as the plane 
went into its glide. Leighton, calm as Buddha and as casual as if he 
were reading the compass bearings of the map, gave me instruc- 

"Tighten your parachute harness. I will try and glide in for a 
landing. If anything happens I'll go out to sea. Don't inflate your 
life jacket until you hit the water. And don't forget to pull the rip- 

And that was all. 

Briefly we disputed the air passage with two condors who, like 
ourselves, were Pacific-bound, and when they found a wind cur- 
rent, Leighton followed them slightly upward. There was the emer- 
gency strip on the high bluff we had left three hours before and 
there was Silvia standing beside the trucks. There was one long mo- 
ment more when I thought we would surely hit into a canyon, but 
Leighton skillfully avoided it and set us down on the Chala air- 
field. Our search, I felt, was becoming unpleasantly hazardous. 

That night, with a water keg as my table and sharing my gaso- 
line lamp with the insects, I wrote my dispatch for the New York 


Von Hagens Discover Lateral by Which Kings' Sea Food 
Was Carried to Cnzco 

Cbala, Pern, June 19, 1954 "We found today a fifteen- 
mile stretch of Inca road as wonderfully engineered as any- 
thing the Romans ever built. The same day, after a long search, 
my wife Silvia and I located the lateral road that led to Cuzco, 
the Inca capital the road over which the Inca King received 
daily shipments of fish fresh from the sea. 

Along the coast, we have followed and explored the high- 


Highway of the Sun 

way from Lima for more than 500 miles, finding all the cities 
through which the route once ran. We have left a team of ar- 
chaeologists to examine four of these ancient settlements. Now 
we pushed farther south to seek positive confirmation of the 
evidence of the Incas how they lived and their amazing en- 
gineering skills. 

The Inca realm which was at its height in 1 500 A.D. was held 
together by its system of roads. Between the final decline of 
Rome and the rise of Napoleon, who revised the Roman roads, 
these Inca highways were the finest communication system de- 
vised by man anywhere. 

There were two main highways . . . the mountain road, 
which began in what is now Columbia, then ran through Ecua- 
dor, Peru and Bolivia and split to reach into modern-day Ar- 
gentina and Chile, a total distance of 2,700 miles; and, second, 
the coastal highway which began at Tumbes, Peru, at 3 degrees 
south latitude near the Ecuador line and traversed the entire 
desert coast for 2400 miles to the Maule River in Chile, 3 5 de- 
grees south. 

Supplementing the two main roads was an intricate system 
of secondary routes the laterals that connected the two 
main trunks at various parts of the empire. These are some of 
the most spectacular thoroughfares; they climb the valleys 
from the arid coastal desert to the snow -filled heights of the 

In our study they are important because they were the route 
of the Incas' conquest and show us the extremes in the tech- 
niques of Inca engineering. We had plotted and followed most 
of these important laterals. We had found all the important 
laterals but one the road that was said to have led directly 
from the coast to the Inca capital of Cuzco. The Inca Kings 
were said to have had fresh fish delivered daily to them from 
the sea. If that was true, it must have come over the shortest 
route from the coast. 

When we found a turn-off from the main road and followed 
it due east, we were certain that this was the road coming from 
the sea the Cuntu-suyu quarter moved directly to Cuzco. 


Chala: the Fourth Quarter 

Our exploration by land, a laborious one, was finally comple- 
mented by an aerial survey and we followed the road until it 
disappeared beyond Lake Parinacochas, n,ooo feet in altitude, 
and saw the road making its way toward Cuzco. 

Many weeks later, when Silvia and 1 returned from following the 
Inca road south all the way to the border of Chile, we found the 
Riddells already deep in excavation at the ruins of the ancient fish- 
ing village at Quebrada de la Vaca on the sea coast of Chala. Over 
their tent as we approached the AGS flag still flapped, its now faded 
blue field giving some index of the time they had spent under 
Acari's menacing sun. About the tent and under the canvas, neatly 
labeled boxes filled with skeletal material they had gathered during 
this stay pieces of cotton, textiles, rolls of mummy wrappings, 
bits of bone instruments, copper and bronze tools, fragments of 
quipas, and box upon box of scrubbed and labeled potsherds. No 
calendar was needed to tell us of the flight of time. We had only to 
look at Fritz Riddell's beard, now a luxuriant blond growth the 
same color as his hair, and generously coated with the dust of the 
centuries. Fritz, who presented a slight almost boyish appearance, 
was primarily a "dirt archaeologist." He had worked among the In- 
dians of his native California, excavated in Alaska, and had dug up 
ancient villages of the prehistoric Tlingits. After several years of 
service as a marine in the Pacific, he returned to his work in the 
Southwest. His training in a field known for the paucity of its ma- 
terial, where the ground has to be searched expertly for every clue, 
fitted him for this work in Peru, where there were hundreds of dif- 
ferent clue-bearing artifacts. We were to find that his conclusions 
concerning the Peruvian Indians' way of life gave us an ex- 
cellent and well-rounded ethnographic picture of the people them- 


Highway of the Sun 

Here on the coast the Riddells had been alone except for the reg- 
ular visits of Lawrence, who dropped in on them with fresh fish 
and briefly photographed what had been done in the interval or 
when Leighton had made a parachute drop of supplies and mail 
Now and again local fishermen from the village of Chala had come 
to the cove to search for molluscs or make a harvest of the seaweed 
that clung to the rocks. For company they had often had a red fox, 
drawa by the smell of their garbage and at last so tame that he 
would sit and watch Fritz Riddell excavating the mummies. Con- 
dors paid them hopeful daily visits and frequently sea birds, dying 
of some strange malady, fluttered down to die in the camp. Once a 
moribund pelican, weak and clumsy, staggered into camp to fall 
helplessly on its side. Dorothy propped it up with rocks and tried 
in vain to feed it, but within an hour it died and the condor's dance 
of death began. The detailed maps they had made of Acari, the neat 
pile of reports on the findings with their careful analysis of the ru- 
ins and the scaled charts of the structures, showed how much they 
had accomplished. These weeks too had given them the tc feel >s of 
the climate its mist-cold, the winds, the torrid heat, the ever- 
lasting dryness which had forged the Indian way of life. So, in a 
sense, through them the dead became the living. 

And what had they learned of Acari, that "buried city" on the 
ancient road? To what culture or cultures had it belonged? That 
the Inca had built their village city on top of an older village of the 
Nascas, they had determined by their study of the architecture and 
by comparing the potsherds they had found in the various layers of 
Acari's history. The stylistic changes seen in the design, firing, mod- 
eling of the ceramics had much to say. The Riddells* first project 
had been a thorough analysis of this pottery in terms of its associa- 
tion with the architecture in order to establish a typology of these 
artifacts. In so doing, they had learned that several cultures had 
had a part in the making of Acari. 


Chala: the fourth Quarter 

The Nascas, that shadowy people whose identity was revealed by 
pottery of polychromic colors adorned with stylistic representa- 
tions of birds, animals, trophy heads and elaborate stylized anthro- 
pormorphic monsters, had been in control of the Acari region from 
about 800 A.D. until the arrival of the Incas. In about 1450 A.D. 
Inca road-planners, marking the oasis villages where the Ica- 
Nasca tribesmen still lived, had laid down their road so as to con- 
nect the different valleys. Leveling the earlier Nasca buildings, they 
erected a formal administration center complete with pyramids, 
sun temples and a plaza with a north-south orientation. Into this 
they ran their road. The rooms of their buildings were large. An- 
cient wood stumps pointed to the fact that the rooms had been 
roofed and thatched with straw while building materials had come 
from close at hand river cobbles set in clay mortar and covered 
with plaster painted white and yellow and the adobe which they 
used extensively. The tampu itself had numerous storage chambers, 
low-walled cubicles of loose stone construction known as pirca 
which are usually connected with house compounds. The repetitive 
use of these storage chambers indicated, so the Riddells had con- 
cluded, a construction used only at such places as had been halting 
stops on the Inca road. 

The people who had lived in Acari and other coastal valleys wore 
tunics fashioned much like those of the Andean dweller, only theirs 
were more cotton than wool. Their agriculture was, as it is still to- 
day, the cultivation of corn, beans, squash and peppers. This basic 
food supply the native Peruvian supplemented with fourteen spe- 
cies of wild succulent roots, forty-two types of fish, twenty-one 
different forms of edible animals and at least forty varieties of game 

Still earlier the coastal civilization had been influenced by the 
Tihuanacu culture. That during this period there had been consid- 
erable trade with the jungles, the Riddells had discovered in their 

Highway of the Sun 

examination of the tell-tale artifacts the jaguar, puma, parrot 
and monkey were common motifs on their pottery, and the iron- 
hard chonta wood, used for spindle whorls and combs, was only ob- 
tainable in the jungles. However, even after the Inca conquest early 
in the fifteenth century, the people of Acari had kept their own 
way of life and their pottery and textiles retained their traditional 
patterns. Also they spoke their own language although they were 
forced to learn Quechua, the tongue of the conquerors. Yet they 
became a part of the whole, and under Inca administrators and 
engineers they built the road along the coast and on it, the tampn- 
city of Acari. 

Here the architecture, according to the study made by Fritz Rid- 
dell, showed clearly that the work on both road and city had been 
done under expert supervision and with a single unified plan and a 
pattern which pointed up the difference between the helter-skelter 
formless Nasca city and the purposeful compact Inca city which 
took its place. The latter, functional and utilitarian, was a fine ex- 
ample of the striking accuracy of Inca planning and attention to 
the details of arrangement. All that we had previously surmised 
about the over-all pattern of the Inca road, the careful planning 
that went into the road system, and the organization of the tarn pus 
was confirmed in these archaeological details the Riddells had found 
at Acari. 

The Incas did not, of course, create these coastal cultures. They 
arrived too late for that and actually the aesthetics of their art was 
often inferior to those of the people they conquered. The Incas were 
organizers and their road became the connecting link which joined 
these competitive valleys skirting the thousand miles of Peru's 
desert. Local wars were stopped, the interchange of cultures began ; 
commerce and the well-being that trade causes brought a broader 
and a better organized life to the coastal tribes. 

Proof of all this the Riddells found in the graves they examined 


Chala: the Fourth Quarter 

and in the ruins of the kitchen middens. Engraved gourds, bits of 
dishes, pottery, spindle whorls, yarn, cordage, slings, nets and bags, 
beads and ornaments, fragments of figurines, stone and bone knives, 
pins, needles, awls for working leather and wood, weaving imple- 
ments and carding combs, club heads and combs of chonta wood 
from such as these the Riddells had drawn their conclusions regard- 
ing a lost way of life in ancient Acari, a caravan stop on the long 
Inca coastal road. 

In order to determine whether Chala, as we suspected, was lo- 
cated on the road to Cuzco, the Riddells had made a survey of the 
radial road and had found where it broke off from the main coastal 
highway and where it ran up to the Parcoy Canyon. So, although 
there were indications that this had been only a small village, they 
had estimated that there had been at least two hundred and sev- 
enty underground stone storage chambers having a capacity from 
two to ten cubic meters. Only a fraction of this number would have 
been needed to maintain the village. One of these storage cham- 
bers, a walled structure two hundred feet long, Fritz had mapped 
in detail. In these the food obviously destined for Cuzco or for of- 
ficial use had been stored, 

For food the people along the coast had fish and dry molluscs, 
along with corn, hot peppers and seaweed. The dry corn, boiled in 
lime juice, was made into a sort of hominy called mote to which 
peppers were added to give it flavor, and molluscs were boiled with 
the seaweed. These dehydrates and the fish were ample for a people 
of such limited tastes. The needs of the people were simple and the 
Inca had perfect genius for keeping them that way. Much of the 
year the climate was agreeably cool and pleasant and there were ap- 
parently few disease-carrying insects. From their examination of 
the mummy skulls, the Riddells found that tooth infections were 
the common affliction, with even the children suffering from dis- 
eased teeth as was shown by the traces of numerous cavities and 


Highway of the Sun 

abscesses in the jaw structures. Yet on the whole, their teeth were 
well preserved. 

From their studies o the skeletal remains they fleshed the bones 
in this wise: they concluded that these Indians were of medium 
size, robust and broad-headed, with prominent "Roman" noses typi- 
cal of the mountain Indians of present day Peru and with protrud- 
ing chins which caused facial prognathis or a sort of lantern-jaw 
appearance. The hair, straight and black, was worn in various hair- 
st yl es pigtails for the men, while the women wore braids inter- 
twined with colored wool fringe wound very strikingly in back of 
the head with decorative ribbons. The men wore a breech clout and 
a chusma, cc a kind of sleeveless waistcoat made by taking a fold of 
square cloth, sewing up the edge, leaving gaps for arms, and cut- 
ting a slit for the head in the fold." Both men and women wore the 
chumpi stomach band, an elaborately woven cummerbund, and 
leather sandals. The women wore a loose-shaped tunic called anaco 
reaching the toes and a sort of shawl which served a dual purpose 
as protection against the cold and baby carrier. Motifs in the textiles 
were different for men and for women, so much so that the sex of 
the skeletons could be determined merely by looking at the peculiar 
textiles that enveloped them. All of the dead found here were simi- 
lar, suggesting that a homogeneous people had lived in the fishing 
village. Infant mortality seemingly was high; many a child had died 
of an ailment which had attacked the bone the Riddells thought 
it might have been congenital syphilis. So well had they catalogued 
the motifs of the weavings in the mummies that they could tell 
from the burial textiles whether the little skeleton belonged to a 
boy or girl child. As everywhere in the world, the mortality among 
male children was higher than among the females. 

In one of the more elaborate burial chambers the Riddells had 
found what they took to be the remains of the chieftains, judging 


Chala: the Fourth Quarter 

from the quality of the textiles and the fact that the qmpus, those 
string knots with which they kept records, had been buried with 
them. The architecture of the village also pointed to the fact that 
the formal house patterns facing the bay were the living quarters of 
an important caste. In the decimal classification o the empire by 
which all were ruled, such a village as this would have been run by 
a chieftain named to rule over five hundred people. But this had 
been the terminus of the Cuntu-suyu section, "one quarter of em- 
pire/* and a direct route to Cuzco, so therefore an even greater 
chieftain would have been in command. 

It was now abundantly clear from a study of the whole region 
that the three sites we had studied Acari, Cahua Marca and 
Chala, all located within a twenty-mile stretch of boulder-strewn 
pampas were related culturally and functionally. Here then the 
Inca road, important as the turn-off to Cuzco, had been particu- 
larly well constructed. The road-rnarker which we had noticed as 
we came in proved to be, when examined by the Riddells, a well-cut 
stone nicely fitted into a prepared base. It stood in the road just be- 
fore the Cuzco-radial began, marking for the couriers the point at 
which they were to turn toward Cuzco. 

However, Chala's ta-mpn was another mile further along the road, 
on a high bluff overlooking the sea and the long beach. There a still 
larger site had played a different part in the life of this region. This 
the Riddells surmised from the skeletons of the people found there. 
Whereas here at the fishing village the people were homogeneous, at 
the site of the tampu at Chala they found all manner of skulls 
flattened heads, long heads, "string heads" or those which had been 
artificially flattened, skulls which were elongated and deformed 
mingled with undeformed broad heads which would seem to in- 
dicate that this tampu had been a mingling place of all tribes which 
used the Inca road. 


Highway of the Sun 

These conclusions the Riddells stated with considerable caution, 
offering them as the dry bones of speculation. As Dorothy said, 
"this is the sort of information that is available in such a region 
and it is astonishingly complete, partly because of the unusual pres- 
ervation of the evidence and partly because of the ethnographic his- 
torians and the Spanish chroniclers." 

Time was nagging at our footsteps but the Riddells still had 
much to do and so would remain in Chala for some time. As for the 
rest of us, we were now ready for our northern journey. At our 
lea headquarters Lawrence had finished the documentary film on 
the Riddells' archaeological work and was ready to go on with us 
along the Inca road from Lima northward to its end at Tumbes. 

Dorothy and Fritz walked down with us over the connecting 
Inca road to the main Inca axial highway where our vehicle stood. 
We said our good-bys and then watched them turn back to their 
camp. They were a dedicated couple, re-creators of the dead. In 
their work with the complicated techniques of recording, recon- 
structing and classifying was the romance of treasure hunting; but 
in the slow process of mending the broken pots, the study and clas- 
sification of the bones and the concentrated study of their findings, 
much of the patina of romance was of necessity rubbed off. Yet 
they had so given life to a long-dead people that as we stood on the 
road we seemed to see about us the hosts of those who had once 
traveled this highway and over this rock-dwarfed spot the ghosts 
of ancient man moved once more. 


X V 
The Kingdom of the Moon 

As SOON AS we were north of Lima we felt the influence of the 
Chimus. There was not, to be sure, any physical change in the des- 
ert except that the valleys were more populated. The aridity was 
just as overwhelming and the sterile desert was even more encom- 
passing if that was possible. There was still the same desolate pam- 
pas between the enveloping sand and the foothills of the Andes and 
still on its surface the ubiquitous Inca road. We followed it in our 

In our two trucks specially equipped for this terrain we went 
around the sand dunes that loom up high and "impassable'* along 
the Bay of Ancon and followed the track of the road through the 
valley of Chancay, then onto the pampas itself. The technique we 
had developed over the past year and more of exploration had be- 
come almost mechanical. We knew the characteristics of the Inca 
road so well that now we needed only to plot our direction, seek 
out the region, find the road, mark down its features, make meas- 
urements to check its width and then once again forward. 

Near to the sea we passed Huara where the first Spaniards to 
come this way had stopped on the 2 8th of January, 1532, *'at a very 
large village near the sea ... where we were well served by the 
Indians who supplied us with what was required . . ." And then 

Highway of the Sun 

again turning eastward from the sea we took to the stretch of des- 
olation between valleys and once again three miles back from the 
sea came on the Inca highway coursing across the pampa Medio 
Mundo. As soon as the influence of water appeared, all trace of the 
highway disappeared. It was completely eclipsed at the modern 
coastal city of Barranca, vehicular traffic going directly over it, and 
all we could do there was make an historical notation of the road's 
existence. Further on, on a high bank close to the large river the 
Incas called the Huaman-mayu, the Falcon River, was the site of 
an Inca settlement known as Tambo Viejo (Old Way Station), 
During the heavy rains in the sierra the river, practically uncon- 
trollable, caused the Inca engineers considerable trouble. But at this 
one weak link in the coastal highway, they had managed to main- 
tain a pontoon bridge made of reed boats across the river when it 
was comparatively dry. In full flood wayfarers "were conveyed 
across the river in balsa-boats, the horses swimming." 

The further northward we journeyed, the more we felt the in- 
fluence of the Kingdom of the Moon. Every crag, it seemed, on 
the grayish-brown verdureless hills was marked by a fortress with 
immense walls of adobe blocks, signifying that this was the terri- 
tory of the ancient Chimor Kingdom. 

The coastal highway had brought us to Paramonga in the Chi- 
mus' country. On one of the sandstone hills overlooking a river and 
the Pan American Highway which runs directly at its base was the 
remains of one of the great chain fortresses which the Chimu in 
their Kingdom of the Moon had erected to discourage any trespass 
by the Incas from the Kingdom of the Sun, 

Even in its ruins, Paramonga is impressive. We passed under a 
massive gateway, once the formal entrance, and climbed the fallen 
stairway that led us into the fort through its only entrance. It was 
constructed much as a fortress in the Middle Ages would have been. 


Highway of the Sun 

In six tiers, with redoubts pushed out on the slope and salients to 
give the defenders the advantage of crossfire, Paramonga at any 
time would have been considered a powerful fortress. It marked the 
Maginot Line of the Kingdom of Chimor and a system of fortifica- 
tions against attack by the Incas who since 1400 had sought to 
wrest from their resplendent rival the suzerainty of all the Perus. 
When it finally fell to the Inca legions, they merely incorporated 
the mighty fortress into their highway system, put their halt -sta- 
tion under its massive shadow and made it a key control point for 
the coastal way and a check point as well for the lateral road which 
connected with the highroad leading northeast up the valley to the 
white-peaked mountains of the Callejon de Huyalas. The walls of 
the Paramonga fortress, plastered with cement, still show the red 
pigment of frescos which were extant until the nineteenth cen- 
tury. Don Pedro, seeing them in 1548, wrote that the buildings 
were very handsome with "many wild beasts and birds painted on 
the walls which are now all in ruins ... in these days the fortress 
only serves a witness to that which has been . . ." 

Northward was country that has been described as "hollow and 
fainting" and destitute of beauty, and we hurried on through 
Huarmey, once a way-stop on the road and held, albeit briefly, by 
a Spaniard called Martin the Tongue. The land has not changed 
since he complained that he had been slipped a valueless thing, "a 
land full of dispeoplement." For a hundred miles we searched the 
sands and dry valley and found the road, but nothing else Inca. It 
seemed strange, after being so aware of the Argus-eyed Inca during 
the thousands of miles we had traveled, that now there were only 
these shadows of the once-powerful Moon Kingdom with its im- 
mense moldering mud-cast fortresses. 

Such a fortress city was Casma in the next valley. Perhaps the 
Incas had no need to utilize the massive buildings they had taken 

2 5 6 

The Kingdom of the Moon 

along with the Chimus, their last opposition. For the Inca, master 
of three hundred and fifty thousand square miles of land and 
seven million people, it was essential that communications be kept 
open so that tribute could flow to the collecting stations, and that 
the road be always in good repair so that his legions could move 
without hindrance on the Sun's business. 

Beyond this, in the Valley of Nepefia, we came upon the Inca 
road again and we camped that night close on to the little town of 
Huambacho, which formerly had been a night stop on the road. 
Like all coastal Inca villages, now as in 1548, "Huambacho ... of 
which I shall say no more than that it resembles all the rest," stood 
on sterile ground while about it, watered by the constant river, 
was the richly cultivated valley. 

Beyond that narrow verdant valley where a sea of sugar cane 
grew, once more the Inca highway continued northward. The road 
alone was Inca. The ruined cities were those of the rival Chimus 
while on every hill stood a ruined fortress and other barbarously 
beautiful remains of what the "Sun" had destroyed when it eclipsed 
the "Moon." 

What better index of these Inca earth-conquerors and their pas- 
sion for communication than to see the way this part of the road 
passed right through the protective walls? A towering wall had been 
raised to block a valley but the Incas had built their road right 
through it, tumbling down t!he ancient markers so as to reach the 
next valley without deviation. 

Throughout all the long stretches of miles that we had passed be- 
tween Nepena and the desert of Chimbote, Lawrence had faithfully 
filmed the phases of the growth of Royal Road to Cuzco. Here 
where we found the best preserved section, we spent the whole of 
August 14 going back and forth over it for his cameras. The air 
was like a flame and there was not a tree nor bird-voice to lighten 


Highway of the Sun 

the burning air. All that suggested man had ever been this way was 
the seemingly always present road. These people, I thought, nmst 
have had a great capacity for sustained resolve and a stern, unrelax- 
ing self-discipline. The Inca had said cc Let there be a road" and 
there was a road. 

On we went northward through the desert of Chimbote where 
we were engulfed in a sand-storm. Later we climbed up the dunes 
to the Santa Valley where, past massive mud fortresses of the 
Chimu, past the cultivated strips of cotton, over railroads which 
had been laid on the passes marked out by the Inca, we followed the 
ancient road. 

At midday on August i6> 1954, so my journal states, we went 
through the "Great Wall of Peru" and came to the last defense wall 
of the Kingdom of Chimor. The great wall, once towering to a 
height of eight feet and built of rough stone, began at the sea a few 
miles north of the bay of the Santa Valley and ran inland over the 
mountains for forty miles. At least, so thought Robert Shippee who 
discovered it in 1931 and followed it in air flight until it was lost 
in a tangle of masonry among the complex lower hills of the Andes. 
The wall which connected with a small fortress had evidently been 
a strong bastion of defense. 

Next, in the Valley of Viru, we came to one of the oldest re- 
corded and most systematically investigated valley-cultures in 
Peru. In 1944 a group of American archaeologists had pulled back 
the layer of history to find at the lowest level a people who lived 
in underground adobe -block houses and were without pottery 
their date, 2500 B.C. Layer after layer of this record was examined 
to discover the past. 

In 1000 B.C. a mountain culture known as the Chavin "intro- 
duced mirrors, finger-rings, carved stone . . . and corn." By the 
first century irrigation was being developed and the small Viru 
Valley two miles long, nine miles at its widest, extended its arable 


The Kingdom of the Moon 

land. With increased population, it so attracted conquerors that in 
A.D. 800 a system of fortifications was erected on the dry hills. 
Then the valley was absorbed by the Mochicas, a people who knew 
how to govern, who came in from the north. For this culture the 
stratification showed fine pottery, gold casting, better textiles and, 
above the ground, impressive truncated temples, fortresses and 
walled roads. After A.I>. 1000 came a new conquest, this time by a 
tribe coming out by Lake Titicaca. The shadowy figured Tiahuana- 
cus brought with them their cult of the Weeping God, the Cre- 
ator God who eternally weeps zoomorphic tears of condors, snakes 
and puma heads. 

The Tiahuanacu conquered and rebuilt the fortresses and living 
compounds within the valley. Ceramics changed to fit the ideology 
of the Weeping God, with the dominant color black and most of 
the pottery mold-made. However, although the mountain people 
conquered, they did not know how to administrate the defeated, 
and after A.D. 1300 the desert land was reconquered by the Chimus. 
They, so archaeological evidence shows, spread their influence as far 
south as Lima and the valley of the Rimac and as far north as Ecua- 
dor and ruled until they were in turn defeated by the all-conquer- 
ing Incas who arrived in 1460 with all their heavy splendor and 
hideous litter of war and slavery. Utilitarian as ever, the Inca or- 
ganizers did not even attempt to build onto forty-five hundred 
years of history. Instead they avoided the prebuilt sites and estab- 
lished their headquarters outside the Viru Valley on the pampas of 
Guanape where in 1549 there still were remains of the buildings 
and storehouses. 

In the final analysis the Incas were civilizers, and so their practi- 
cal engineers ran their Royal Road for twenty miles along the high 
sand-bluff on the edge of the sea until it entered Chan-Chan, the 
capital city of the Kingdom of the Moon. 

Highway of the Sun 

Worshipers of the Moon, the Chimus raised a city-state where it 
did not seetn a city could be built in the sterile desert hard upon 
the sward of the Moche Valley* 

Slowly, with the years, the metropolis of Chan-Chan 1 took form. 
A city of pyramids, temples, house-compounds, streets, gardens and 
reservoirs, Chan-Chan in its day must have been the most popu- 
lated city of the Americas. The immediate valley as well as the 
other valleys under Chimu dominance were extensively cultivated, 
and many irrigation canals brought water down from the moun- 
tains to channel it into reservoirs within the walls of Chan- 

Everything here was large in scale. Their weaving, of exception- 
ally high quality, was a commonly practiced industry and there is 
evidence of widespread commerce hundreds of miles from their 
immediate realm. Ceramics, predominantly blackware pottery, were 
mass -produced in molds; golden ornaments were cast and ham- 
mered out by expert craftsmen. Within one of the ten great wall 
enclosures was an entire village of gold-workers where the dross of 
the melting ovens is still to be seen. The many golden Chimu orna- 
ments drinking cups, pendants, earplugs, necklaces and crowns 
now in museums give an idea of the Arabian Nights unreality of 
this capital of the Chimu. 

When the clash occurred in 1461 between the Sun (Inca) and 
the Moon (Chimu) , it came, as war often does, unexpectedly. An 
Inca general on a raiding expedition in a sierra struck north at the 
tribal-state of Cajamarca one hundred miles directly east of 
Chan-Chan and in a short sharp conflict the raiding legions 
were victorious. Until that time, the Inca in Cuzco had not wished 
war with the Chimu, fearing their strength. But with the fall of 

1 I remain indebted to my friend Dr. John H. Rowe for considerable 
material for this chapter, adapted from his pamphlet, The Kingdom of 
Chimor. (Act a Americana Vol. VI, Nos. 12. 1948.) 


The Kingdom of the Moon 

Cajamarca, his massive armies began the siege of the Kingdom of 

An attempt made by the Chimu troops to relieve their mountain 
allies in Cajamarca had been beaten back with fearful losses. In 
turn the Incas' attempt to storm the Chimu defense positions had 
also ended in failure. Then a plan was made, the cleverness of 
which so charmed Indian folk singers who told of past events that 
for many years thereafter they sang of how "the Inca took into con- 
sideration the fact that the Chimus' valleys were irrigated by water 
and rivers from the highlands and that without it the Chimus could 
not get along; so that they sent many laborers accompanied by four 
thousand soldiers and in a few days they diverted the river of the 
Chimus into the sandy wastes which swallowed it entirely. They 
sent a messenger to the Grand Chimu saying that the Inca, the son 
of the Sun, had dominion over the waters and that he took them 
away and would keep them from the Chimu so long as they did not 

So the Inca conquered and thereafter the Kingdom of Chimor 
was ruled by the Sun instead of the Moon. And again, although the 
Chimus were forced to submit to Inca law, they were allowed their 
own customs and dress and local chieftains. Loot from Chan-Chan, 
the "richest ever," estimated at eight million dollars, was carried 
off, as was their lord Minchancaman, who was kept in honored ex- 
ile in Cuzco. And from the conquered Chimu, possessors of a supe- 
rior culture, the Inca learned. Town-planning, metal-working, 
mass production of textiles and tapestry all became part of the 
Inca way of life, for the Incas with their capacity for conquering 
also knew how to assimilate different ideas and techniques. A Chimu 
colony was eventually established in Cuzco to teach these crafts. 
At the time of the Spanish conquest (which followed that of the 
Inca within fifty years) the traditions of the Chimu were still so 
much in evidence that a Spanish chronicler wrote: **. . . when the 


Highway of the Sun 

Bang's Incas made themselves lords of these coast valleys they held 
the Chimu in great esteem and ordered large buildings and pleas- 
ure houses to be erected within the city walls. And the Royal Inca 
Road built with its walls was also made to pass through the valley/* 

We lingered on at Chan-Chan. Silvia, who had patiently endured 
the hardships of the road through the miles of sand, wished to stay 
longer at the ruins to sketch the few remaining wall arabesques, 
those last fragments of the rich decoration which once covered all 
the walls of Chan-Chan. Lawrence, as well, wanted to photograph 
it thoroughly, for it was obvious from the rapid pace of destruction 
that within a few brief years nothing would be left of it except 
mounds of amorphous mud. 

Man and nature have combined to bring Chan-Chan to ruin. 
The coast that usually knows no rain is here subjected, by some 
twist of the meteorological dial, to a deluge of rain every thirty 
years. Since 1924 these rains have increased in violence and fre- 
quency so that most of the walls now resemble a piece of chocolate 
left in the noon- day sun. And of able assistance to this iconoclasm 
of Nature have been men in search of buried gold. Ever since a 
Spaniard in 1577 found two million dollars in gold in one of 
Chan-Chan's pyramids, treasure hunters have assiduously under- 
mined its walls. 

While the others worked in the ruins, I busied myself trying to 
find the route taken by the highway through the Moche valley into 
the ghost city of Chan-Chan and beyond, hoping I could discover 
how the Inca administrators had handled their highway when they 
brought it into a crowded city area. Would they have pushed it 
through Chan-Chan's high walls, tumbling them as they did in the 
desert when they came to the outer defense walls of the Kingdom of 
Chimor? Would it have been good policy to irritate the defeated by 
bringing a road through the heart of their city? 


The Kingdom of the Moon 

It has been suggested by historians that the Incas had done just 
that, and as proof they pointed to the numerous roads still seen to 
the north on a line with Chan-Chan. I was not of this school of 
thinking. There is something to be said for instinct, and instinct 
told me that we should look without, rather than within, these high 
walls, believing that the Inca engineers had tended to disregard the 
roads made by those they had conquered as not sufficiently utili- 
tarian. Anything that slowed up such progress as could be made 
over their straight all-weather roads they regarded as a waste. The 
Incas measured distances by time and while time is not precisely 
life and speed is not necessarily civilization, speed does cancel space, 
and the Incas had always to think about the time-space equation in 
this tortured landscape of desert and mountains. 

So I turned to look without the walls. After some days of search- 
ing in the morass of grass-topped dunes between the old walls and 
the sea, I had found no trace of the road. There seemed no evidence 
of it the sifting dunes and the long tufts of grass had usurped it. 

We next tried an air view. Although the view from the air many 
times confounded the confusion, when an air survey was followed 
by an immediate ground examination the former had proven an 
invaluable aid. Fortunately in Chan-Chan there was an American 
aviator who operated a fleet of small dusting planes for one of the 
largest sugar-cane estates in the Chicama valley. And one day Frank 
Wellman dropped his yellow Cessna down on the airfield which lies 
immediately outside of Chan-Chan's walls. A curly-headed, one- 
eyed Calif ornian, with a passion for hunting Chimu graves, he con- 
sidered his Sundays well spent when, armed with his mine detector, 
a well-packed lunch and his family, he could scour the Peruvian 
earth for Chimu gold one reason he was deeply interested in the 
route of the ancient roads. Knowing this, I had ventured to ask his 
assistance. He arrived on schedule. 

"This shows the influence of Albrecht's clock at the hacienda," 

Highway of the Sun 

he said. "Over the face it reads Hora tacit et labora. I watched and 
labored and here I am." 

That flight was well remembered. It was to be our last with 
Wellman. A few months later he went down in this very plane 
along with Silvia's cousins in the mountains just above the Inca 
road. It seemed to be our strange fate that, although we were ex- 
posed to physical dangers every day, we had escaped thus far while 
friends and family were struck down. Only recently we had been 
stunned to hear of the death of our friend Dr. Wendell Bennett 
who had guided the Expedition from the beginning and soon we 
were to have word of this latest tragic happening. 

The Cessna had no sooner gained the air above the dry river can- 
yon at Rio Seco at the northern edge of Chan-Chan ruins than we 
saw four roads, and for five minutes we shifted excitedly from one 
side of the plane to the other, looking first at one, then the other. 
The larger road which we had already gone over was at least sev- 
enty-five feet in width and must therefore have been a Chimu pro- 
cessional road. We knew it was not Inca for they would have re- 
garded such wide roads as a conspicuous waste of effort and land. 
The other three roads were more in keeping with the Incas' idea of 
road economy each was narrow and bordered with walls. All dis- 
appeared from view in the windswept desert. 

There was no great mystery about the appearance of so many 
roads. North of the Moche Valley is the valley of Chicama, the 
principal valley belonging to the Mochica's (A.D. 0-800) cultural 
predecessors on the coastal valley. But it was only after our plane 
had made its fourth sweep of the desert and we were again near the 
airport, which is located between the Rio Seco and the first walls of 
Chan-Chan, that we saw what we hoped to see the familiar par- 
allel lines, the mark of the Royal Road. It was obvious why we had 
been unable to find it below. The airfield had been built directly on 
top of it! The line of the road was faint, yet we could see it going 


The Kingdom of the Moon 

along the shore between Chan-Chan and the sea. So our instincts 
had not played us false. The Incas had kept, as we felt they would, 
their direct line of communication outside of Chan-Chan's walls. 
Now we could continue north on the Inca road. 

Huanchaco, a village within sight of the ruins of Chan-Chan, lies 
close to the sea. In times past, large wood rafts sailed into this bay 
carrying tropical woods, gold, bird-feathers and chocolate from the 
north jungles. Anchored here and still used are small fishing fleets of 
totora reed balsa boats made just as they appeared on pottery de- 
posited in Chimu tombs. The natives call them caballitos, "little 
horses," of the sea. 

Above the village of fragile houses made from the flattened 
withes of Guayaquil bamboo was the church of San Jose de Huano- 
laco, built directly over an Inca halting-place; and three hundred 
feet away from it on the desert was the Inca road. Like the other 
roads we had seen from the air, it too was soon lost in the sand. 

This seemed to us as good a place as any to test the theory of the 
"directional straightness" of the Inca highway system. It is not 
true, as has sometimes been assumed, that the Incas always built 
their road in an undeviating line or that they always overcame 
physical obstacles rather than avoided them. Often in the coastal 
valleys where the road ran between a double array of hills, we had 
seen the road make a 4 5 -degree angle rather than needlessly mount 
a hill. But because on the overall the road was constructed so that 
between two given points it would move in a straight line and act* 
ing on the assumption that variants always have to be built up 
against determinants, we began to lay down a theoretical line on 
the basis of what we knew. 

On our Peruvian military maps, Lawrence plotted a direct line 
between the road on which we were standing and the next known 
Inca stop in the Chicama valley ahead. He drew a light pencil line 


Highway of the Sun 

over the intervening desert of Campana between these two points. 
The compass reading was 330 degrees north. 

We started off in the early morning on a day hot enough to broil 
one's brains. In the vanguard, Silvia drove the jeep while I kept 
vigilance over the compass. I do not believe a vehicle had ever 
crossed this desert none could unless it was, like ours, powered 
by double transmission. Even so the jeep had soon sunk to its hub- 
caps and we crawled forward at the pace of a mule's walk. It was 
as if we negotiated the sea. There was nothing to hold the eye, for 
the wind whipping up a whirlwind of sand had blotted out the 
3000-foot mountain to the east, leaving us floating on an unlim- 
ited sea of sand. 

The heat came as out of a blast furnace and sand, blown by the 
persistent gale of wind, cut like fragments of glass. Our calcula- 
tions showed that we had approximately thirty miles of desert to 
pass through but even at our present speed of three miles an hour 
we felt that with luck we could reach the other valley by nightfall. 
But in a short time the jeep boiled over, and I crawled out in the 
high wind, pushing forward as a diver would walk on the floor of 
the sea. I could not open the hood of the motor, for it would have 
been sand-bound within moments. We could only wait for the 
Power Wagon. It was a long time in coming. Then we made it out, 
its fiery red clearly showing through the sand haze. It too was hav- 
ing trouble finding traction in the enveloping sand and, like the 
jeep, it was overheated. 

So, while food was being prepared, I climbed on top of the jeep 
for a better vantage point and with my binoculars searched the 
sand. There was nothing to be seen in either direction. I wondered 
again if this desert had ever been traveled. Our map only con- 
firmed the utter desolation of this region there was nothing here 
to attract anyone. What if we stuck in the sand? What if the cars 
could not negotiate it? On foot one would have extreme difficulty 


The Kingdom' of the Moon 

getting out, and, even if help could be summoned, where was the 
vehicle that could cross this desert? I had grown so accustomed to 
our crossing the worst terrains that the thought of not being able 
to extricate ourselves from any situation had never occurred to me. 
But now . . . 

Lawrence was still drinking coffee. I had long since stopped esti- 
mating how much coffee he drank but certainly it was more than 
the thirty cups that Balzac was supposed to have consumed daily. 
Silvia nursed a small cool drink with the last of the ice from the 
giant Thermos and the sand continued to blow in fine as blizzard 
snow. We discussed our prospects. For the moment, I felt it wiser to 
keep to myself the thought I had just had. Lawrence was only a lit- 
tle less certain of the ability of the trucks to withstand the heat 
than he was of the probability that we should find the road. At last 
Silvia came up with the suggestion that since we could not see any- 
thing anyway, why not wait and travel by moonlight? That indeed 
seemed sound advice. Surrounded by sand and desert, I felt the very 
opposite of that poor sheik who said: "The four wives I have are all 
ignorant and cause me much trouble. I want one with whom I can 
talk. If I can find the right one, I might be even willing to allow 
her to wear a hat." 

Meanwhile we found that as we discussed our predicament the 
jeep had settled even deeper into the sand. The wheels threw up 
geysers of the stuff and the more I ran the motor, the deeper they 
sank. Lawrence finally managed to pull us out with the front winch 
of the Power Wagon, but then he was stuck. This was something else 
again for there was more than a ton of equipment in the trucks. In 
the fury of wind and sand, we emptied the truck and let the air out 
of the huge tires. Still it was not enough, so we fell to shoveling. 
For hours we dug at the rear wheels, hoping that in due course we 
might settle the tires on the hard pampas surface which lay some- 
where down below the sand. As I alternately shoveled and wiped 

Highway of the Sun 

away the coursing perspiration mixed with grit, I fulminated 
against the Inca road we would never be able to find it anyway 
in this benighted spot. Then, after digging out four feet of sand, we 
found that we had deposited the Power Wagon directly on the 
hardened surface of the road. 

The night did not bring the moon. A veil of heavy mist settled 
about, so thick that our lights could not even penetrate it and the 
best that could be said of our night voyage was that it was cool and 
we were not forced to stop every half -hour to rest the motors. Al- 
though we kept to the 330-degree direction, we were soon well past 
the absolute maximum of time it should have taken us even at our 
slow pace to pass over the desert. More we were exhausted. It was 
close to midnight and with the unchanging sand and mist acting as 
soporifics, even coffee could not keep us awake. Finally, with the 
firm conviction that we were utterly lost, we gave up, dragged out 
our sleeping sacks and, like seasick voyagers who are past caring 
whether they sink or float, we went to sleep. 

In the morning the mist and wind were gone and the air was as 
if it had been rain-washed. With daylight came humiliation. We 
stood in the precise center of the Inca road! On either side were the 
remains of the high mud walls and in front of us was a tall, mud- 
black pyramid. This we climbed after we broke camp and before 
we set off again, and from the top we saw other pyramids such as 
the one on which we stood lying ahead in the sugar-cane fields. Un- 
knowingly we had followed the road into the dead realm of ancient 

Today the Chicama Valley is the largest and most productive of 
all the coastal valleys and the site of the world's largest sugar haci- 
enda. As we looked down we could see the faint impression of the 
ancient road running along through the canefield. In the course of 
hundreds of years of being traveled over, the ground had so hard- 


The Kingdom of the Moon 

ened that even now crops did not grow well where the road once 
ran. Over the feathery gray plumes of sugar cane loomed the pyra- 
mid of El Ingenio, The Mill, where in 1540 the Spaniard Diego de 
Mora had planted the first sugar cane in Peru. 

The Mochica culture, the most advanced of the coastal region if 
not of all South America, was centuries ahead of all the others. Yet, 
overwhelmed about A.D. 800, the Mochicas were a memory long 
before the Incas even came into existence. However, while the Mo- 
chicas controlled the central coast area they built cities, and exten- 
sive irrigations works, as is evidenced at Ascope in the upper Chi- 
cama Valley, and road systems which in time were closely copied 
by the Inca. Although no Mochica house structures are extant, we 
know from their pottery that they were built with well worked- 
out floor plans, that they were constructed of adobe brick, and that 
the roofs were gabled with massive roof combs. That the Mochicas 
used mass labor is evident from the tremendous size of their pyra- 
mids. One mathematician has calculated that over thirteen million 
bricks were used in the construction of their great Pyramid of the 
Moon. Aside from these pyramids and the massive mud fortifica- 
tions capping natural rock ridges, little is left of Mochica architec- 
ture. Yet few other civilizations have left so impressive a record of 

"We lost the road again in this cultivated valley of Chicama and, 
making a detour to get to the desert on the other side, we came to 
the hacienda of Chiclin where the buildings had been calcimined a 
distinctive pink. The road to its administrative center parallels the 
course of a narrow gauge railway carrying sugar cane to the mill 
along a broad avenue planted with strangler fig trees. 

Senor Rafael Larco Herrera, the hacendado of Chiclin, an ex- 
quisitely mannered eighty-year old patriarch and a former Vice 
President of Peru, met us and graciously conducted us to the mu- 
seum which he had founded. An able albeit amateur archae- 


Highway of the Sun 

ologist, his son Don Rafael Larco, present director of the museum, 
has for thirty years taken time from his business to pursue the 
ghosts of the Mochica people and other related cultures in this 
richly endowed sepulcher of Peru. To our delight we found that 
the museum housed a priceless collection of Mochica ceramics and 
thousands of other artifacts textiles, gold pieces, wood carvings, 
exquisitely worked necklaces, bronze instruments, mummies, 
feather work all "footprints" left by the Mochicas on the road of 

The revealing part of the Mochica history is in their pottery. The 
portraits in clay show a high level of realism combined with a 
charm and delicacy of modeling, painting and firing which has 
hardly ever been equaled anywhere in the world. Their sculptured 
heads are actually documents pertaining to a lost culture and the 
precise details of the faces make it at once apparent that they rank 
with the extraordinary art of the Egyptians. 

There is in this pottery so wide a range of facial structures that 
we were able to form a good idea of their appearance. One head, 
that of an obese man with a cascade of chins, had the bemused ex- 
pression of a sybarite while other sterner types with painted faces 
were evidently warriors. Some of the portrait vases made from 
molds in the form of stirrup cups and designed to hold liquids 
which had been taken from graves show Mochica tribesmen af- 
flicted with disease. In fact a study of the portrait faces might give 
one a catalogue of the endemic diseases of the coast. We found the 
figure of a felon whose face had been purposely mutilated, and still 
other faces showed the effects of the disease which had eaten away 
the upper lip and nose leaving the face, when healed, with the ap- 
pearance of a grinning skeleton. There was scarcely a facial fea- 
ture from the piercing of the ears to the headdress which the Mo- 
chica artists did not realistically portray. Their headdress, a sort of 
turban, was their most conspicuous adornment, and in these the 


The Kingdom of the Moon 

finest and most colorful materials were used. Distinctive turbans 
marked the priest, the medical curer, the soldiers and the couriers 
who ran the road. 

There were infinite details to be seen in other ceramics. We saw 
models of houses and pyramids; an elaborate variety of realistic 
ceramics on plants was so well done that the species could easily be 
identified; landscapes simple and realistically graphic showed plants 
growing in cultivated fields; backgrounds were as delicately sug- 
gested as in Chinese paintings; cactus plants stud the pampas close 
to a walled road in a technique similar to those seen in Persian min- 

The native animals, an intimate part of their lives, have been 
painted and modeled with a warm feeling that again is scarcely sur- 
passed by the Egyptians. A red fox sat on a stirrup-spout jar with 
a lifelike sly look on his face; on another was a hunted fox with 
reddened tongue hanging from his mouth; on yet a third a deer 
lovingly nursed its fawn. There was a long parade of the bird 
kingdom, done with such exquisite modeling and careful attention 
to each feature and detail that we easily identified the pictured bird. 
Among the seabirds, a blue-beaked boobie-bird held its young affec- 
tionately under outstretched wing, and ducks swam with their pe- 
culiar dignity. The modelers of this pottery had caught the liveli- 
ness of the monkey, the humor of the sea lion, the feeling of 
animals. It was remarkably impressive. 

These remarkable pictorial vases even recorded visitations to the 
tribal doctor, a practitioner always identified by the peculiar sash 
he wore. In one a skilled curer was removing a tumor from a man's 
shoulder; in another he trepanned the skull, removing pieces of bro- 
ken bone that pressed upon the brain the success of this opera- 
tion is confirmed by 'the many trepanned skulls removed from 
graves. On another vase an old woman with eyes closed placed her 
hands on a patient's stomach to divine his plaint; in yet another, a 


Highway of the Sun 

curer hovered over the body of an inert patient trying to extract 
the "fairy dart," the symbol of his pain. There were vases showing 
cases of cretinism and syphilis, dwarfs, hunchbacks, Siamese twins 
and amputees. 

But while it was socially profitable to be a doctor, it was also dan- 
gerous for when the patient died under treatment, the doctor 
was held accountable, as was shown by one vase on which a doctor 
naked, except for the usual badge of office was tied to a dead 
man. The killed and the killer formed a spiritual bond; they be- 
longed to each other, and so they were bound; they lay in the desert 
with a carrion bird poised above and waiting. 

Here then in this pottery collection was the history of a people. 
In one sense, an illustrated history is often more explicit than a 
written one, since the written word is, in the flight of time, always 
subject to interpretation. It has always been a mystery why these 
advanced civilizations did not invent some form of writing which 
would have enabled them to leave a record. The principal stimula- 
tion for the invention of writing, first used in Mesopotamia about 
the fourth millennium B.C., was economic and the earliest known 
written accounts are pictographic records of payments made to a 
temple. Such tribute was also paid by tribesmen in Peru's early his- 
tory. This we know they did through their knot-string records, but 
beyond this there is no known "written 55 account. If writing was 
"an artificial creation impelled by the idea-diffusion or stimulus dif- 
fusion," the Mochica did not have it. 

Yet they may have had a system of glyphic communication. 
Their couriers, a special class as seen by the form of their turbans, 
are often pictured on the ceramics as running along the desert roads 
carrying some sort of bag in their hands. Senor Rafael Larco once 
found such a bag of beautifully tanned light llama-skin in the tomb 
of a chasqui. He believes that the Mochica developed communica- 
tion through the use of decorated painted beans in such stylized 


The Kingdom of the Moon 

form as to be, in fact, ideographs, and that these glyph beans were 
carried in such a leather bag. He has drawn these conclusions from 
thousands of ceramics which have the motif of the painted beans 
on them, often coupled with the running cbasqm figure. 

Death and the little gods were also present in this painted history. 
We came away with a complete idea of the Mochica military equip- 
ment and of their warriors. Their weapons were buinesslike: spears, 
sharply pointed javelins, war clubs weighted in bronze or stone. 
Each warrior was accoutered in a buckler and a shield on which was 
painted the heraldic totem of his clan. On vase after vase we saw 
scenes of carnage and battle, where sweeping vital figures clubbed 
and mutilated, and scenes of triumphs showing naked prisoners, 
disarmed and bound with rope around the neck, being led to a 
chieftain who was both judge and victor. Death too stalked the 
exhibit shelves with the vanquished trussed up and hanged or left 
to die in the pictured desert. 

And woman in Mochica art, woman is handled by the artist 
gently and tenderly. She appears as the mother-wife, an active, sym- 
pathetic role not always given her in other examples of primitive 
American art. The artist catches her as she washes her long hair and 
is in the act of wringing it out; she is found making a large bowl 
of intoxicant or cooking in the kitchen or weaving or perhaps re- 
moving a sand flea from the foot of her lordly spouse. Or she is 
found sitting contemplatively while arranging her hair. These are 
singular portraits of the primitive woman of the New World. Usu- 
ally she emerges as a force in this society yet she waits to press her 
demands until her man has been made drowsy by the fumes of 

The Mochica was a sophisticated society and that they caught all 
the humor and accide of great art is shown in their engagingly 
candid pictures of their sexual life. There is nothing in the whole 
range of erotic art Greek, Egyptian or Indian more libidi- 


Highway of the Sun 

nous than the intimate details that they modeled on their vases, 
where sex is fearfully and wonderfully displayed. Phallic wor- 
ship it would be better to say phallic admiration abounds. In 
one vase, a man sits in such a state of desire and with so enormous a 
standard that it could have been characterized by an eighteenth- 
century courtesan as "not a weapon of man, nor the plaything of a 
youth, but a maypole." On another vase an outsized priapus is 
treated with Rabelaisian humor; on the very summit of this instru- 
ment ingenieux sits a small bird who looks down on it in a most 
curious expression of unbelief. 

The positions of love on these vases are more numerous than 
those known to Montegazza, that nineteenth-century gazetteer of 
sexual aberrations. There is every approach, every position, thought 
up by man. So many and so varied that one recalls Remy de Gour- 
mont writing that "the animal is ignorant of diversity of the accu- 
mulation of aptitudes; man alone is libidinous." 

When the Inca conquerors arrived on this part of the coast they 
were shocked by this display of sodomy which involved both 
women and men. This fashionable way had been inherited by the 
Chimus from the Mochicas, and the Inca officials, who lived a com- 
paratively Spartan life, regarded it as an abomination. They tried 
their best to stamp it out, first by destroying just those involved 
and then whole families and clans. But the practice was obviously 
too deeply ingrained to be stamped out, for after the arrival of the 
Spaniard fifty years later the religious phase of sodomy was still 

Cieza de Leon said, "It is certain there were some Particular 
Places, where they kept Boys in Temples for that Purpose, and 
look'd upon that Abomination as a Piece of Religion, only to be 
practis'd upon solemn Occasions by the Priests and Caciques . . . 
for every Temple, or Place of Worship of Note keeps one or two 
more Men who are clad like Woman from their Infancy, imitating 


The Kingdom of the Moon 

them in their Tone, and all other Particulars. These on great festi- 
vals, the prime men us'd to have their Beastly Copulation." 

The Incas seemed to have had no answer to sodomy except whole- 
sale liquidation and when this failed they created artificial work- 
programs to keep the people so fully occupied they would have no 
time to slip out of the ritualistic rhythm of work. Accordingly 
they impressed thousands of these pleasure -loving coastal sybarites 
into their road construction. 

And so over the tombs of the Mochicas which held, as in an 
eternal repository, those ceramics which told the well-defined story 
of a long forgotten and highly articulate civilization, the Inca ran 
his road, that highway which Humboldt characterized as ce the most 
useful and stupendous work ever executed by man." 


A Great City Called Tumpiz 

INo MONUMENT marked it; no one had penned an epic about it. 
Yet where we stood on what had been a truncated pyramid, the 
conquest of Peru had begun. We had come to the end of the great 
coastal road, near to Tumbes where the river of the same name flows 
into the sea. And here in 1532 Francisco Pizarro had landed with 
his small company of soldiers and the stirring drama that was to 
end in the death of the Inca Empire had its beginning. 

Although at that time the Spaniards did not realize it, the road 
that they found outside of Tumbes, or Tumpiz as they called it, 
was the very road that would lead them to their goal. Never had a 
people so carefully made arrangements for their own downfall as 
did the Incas. Just as the Persians paved the way for their conquest 
by the forces of Alexander the Great, so did the magnificent roads 
of the Incas betray them to the Spaniards. As we stood on the ram- 
parts of the pyramid where the first part of the drama took place, 
and looked at the not too distant sea, I thought about the man who 
had tumbled the Inca Empire. 

Francisco Pizarro belonged to that company of Spanish tercios 
who, intermixing piety with rapine, had helped to double the 
world's landscapes. In 1532 with his little army he stood outside of 
this Tumbes at the margin of a wide road "made by hand, broad 

Highway of the Sun 

and well built and in many places paved," and as Balboa had once 
claimed all the land which the Pacific touched, so Pizarro now laid 
claim to all the land that this road serviced. It was a large and gen- 
erous gesture since the road spread, as the Spaniards were to learn, 
over all of Andean South America. Chilli-masa, the corpulent In- 
dian chieftain of Tumbes, who with a retinue of his people includ- 
ing buffoons and dancers had turned out to welcome the steel-clad 
strangers, was amazed by the proceedings the furling of the Im- 
perial flag of Spain, the drums, the bugle and the reading of the 
proclamation by the Royal Scrivener. Of the last he could make 
nothing, and even the garbled version supplied by the Indian trans- 
lator attached to the Spaniards was of no help. Since the road went 
to every part of the "four quarters of the Sun" and embraced the 
desert, the Andes and the jungle, and therefore the lands belonged 
to the Inca, how then could these people claim it? Or how, if this 
claim was denied them, could they take it by force, since his people 
were seven millions and the Spanish army consisted of a mere one 
hundred and eighty men, thirty-seven horses, two cannon, twenty 
crossbows and one white woman? The whole thing had an air of 
utter improbability. But that Francisco Pizarro was not a man to be 
crossed the Indians were soon to learn. They were dealing with the 
most deadly fauna ever to walk the Peruvian earth. 

Three years earlier, on July 26, 1529, Francisco Pizarro had made 
a contract with his Queen to make a conquest of these lands in her 
name. As a reward, he was to have 750,000 maravedis annually, the 
title of Governor and the prerogatives of a Viceroy. He had spent 
many years searching for this Golden Kingdom and now bore at 
his temples the snow of fifty-six winters and in his heart an infinite 
bitterness. Born illegitimate and nursed, it was said, by a sow, able 
neither to read nor write, he had come to the "new founde worlde" 
to change this outrageous fortune. Life in those times was a lottery. 
Chance has a way of elevating one man while she buries others in 


A Great City Called Tumpiz 

mud and infamy. The great prizes were few and the odds in this 
game of conquest were frequently stacked against the player. For- 
tune had eluded Pizarro during his first decades in America. Then 
after the discovery of the Pacific by Balboa, copious accounts be- 
gan to filter up to Panama of a great kingdom of gold that lay to 
the south. 

In search of this kingdom, Pizarro and his one-eyed partner, 
Almagro, spent a weary five years moving south along the seacoast 
until, after vicissitudes which would have ruined a less demoniac 
man than Pizarro, they arrived at last in 1527 in the port of 
Tumbes where they took refuge when their single ship sprung a 
leak. To their amazement they found they were facing a city with 
roofs which appeared to be gold while about it, the usually dry 
desert was a mass of color. Invited to land by the gestures of the 
city's inhabitants who thronged the beaches, Pizarro sent one 
Alonzo de Molina ashore. He returned presently with descriptions 
of a place which rivaled the splendor of the Arabian Nights. The 
women "were as beautiful as suns," every one wore gold in her ears, 
about her neck, and wrists and ankles. The houses were well made, 
luxurious, the finest that he had ever seen. Believing that their com- 
rade spoke out of the Stardust of the imagination, Pizarro sent an- 
other, this time Pedro de Candia, the "Greek," who went ashore in 
full armour freshly burnished and stayed the night. His tale was 
even more wonderful than the other. 

The great city called Tumpiz is inhabited entirely by Indi- 
ans and close to the shore is a great house belonging to the 
lord of the country with walls built of adobes like bricks, very 
beautifully painted with many colors and varnished. I never 
saw anything more beautiful. The roof is straw also painted so 
that it looks more like gold. About a large temple was a gar- 
den with fruits and vegetables of the country imitated all in 
gold and silver. The women wore a dress large and broad like 


"Highway of the Sun 

a morning gown, and the chieftains went dressed in mantles 
and shirts and wore a thing like a turban adorned with gold 
and silver beads which they called chaqmra. The country it- 
self was desert, but the Indians had made it bloom by irriga- 
tion. They said they were the vassals of a great lord named Old 
Cuzco who lived in the mountains and that he had much gold 
and the people spent many days and nights at drinking bouts 
and it is certainly marvelous the quantity of liquor chicha that 
these Indians drink. 

The Spaniards were mad with joy. They had found at last the 
outpost of the Golden Kingdom. They bartered for golden orna- 
ments, took aboard several llamas which they called "sheep/' traded 
for vicuna-wool weavings which they thought were silks, and man- 
aged to persuade several Indians to return with them to Spain. In 
turn it was agreed that Alonzo de Molina, the first Spaniard who 
had gone ashore, would remain at Tumbes alone with his Negro 
slave Gines to await their return. 

That return took five years. In 1532 Pizarro was back with his 
"contract" for the conquest and his titles and his emoluments. He 
found the Spaniard dead and Tumbes destroyed. The "golden gar- 
dens" of which de Candia had sung and the houses plated with gold 
leaf were all gone. The Golden Kingdom about which Pizarro had 
spun beautiful stories, where gold gushed out of the earth midst 
emeralds and pearls, was gone. There were mutterings of revolt. 
Pizarro, "who was as proud as he was poor and whose eagerness for 
gain was in proportion to his poverty," rose to the occasion. He 
sought to buoy up the hopes of his men by having his scrivener 
write a note which he claimed was given to him by an Indian: 
"Know ye," said the note, "whoever you may be that may chance 
to set foot in this country, that it contains more gold and silver 
than there is iron in Biscay." 

Failing by this ruse to satisfy his followers, Pizarro left a crew 


A Great City Called Tumpiz 

behind to await reinforcements coming from Panama and, after 
three days in the ruins of Tumbes, moved off and so came onto the 
wide road. 

"On the first day," said the scrivener, "the governor departed 
from Tumbes which was the i6th of May, 1532, and he arrived at a 
small village. From there they began to march south on this wide 
road in search of this 'Old Cuzco. 5 " 

The Spaniards were amazed by the road. 

Along this Coast and Vales, the Caciques and prime Men, by 
his order, made a Road 1 5 Feet wide with strong Walls on both 
Sides above the Height of a Man. All the Way was very clean 
and shaded with Trees, whose Boughs in many Places hung 
over heavy with Fruit, and Abundance of Parrots and other 
Birds were everywhere among the Woods. In each of these 
Vales the Incas had stately Apartments for themselves and 
mighty Magazines for their Soldiers being so much Fear'd that 
none durst omit to provide for them . . . The Walls were car- 
ry'd along on both sides of the Road . . . 

At the end of August 1954 in the second year of our Expedition 
and precisely four hundred and twenty-two years after the Span- 
iards set off in search of the Golden Kingdom, we ourselves were 
searching for the remains of this 15 -foot wide road with "strong 
Walls on both Sides." 

We had begun, as Pizarro had begun, at the end of the beginning. 
It was soon apparent that modern Tumbes on the banks of the 
Tumbes River was not the old city. But on the advice of one or 
two in the valley who seemed to know something of the road's his- 
tory, we traveled four miles southwest to San Pedro de los Incas. 
There in that little village, with its wickerwork and mud-covered 
dwellings, we found the ruins of the first Tumbes. Around them 
now a skein of irrigation ditches nourishes the fields of rice, and 


Highway of the Sun 

through them and over them runs the new four-lane vehicular Pan 
American Highway. A small house sits atop the Sun Temple first 
seen by Pedro de Candia. Cows and goats wander up its steep sides 
where still to be seen are the adobes "painted with many colors and 
varnished." With an archaeological map of the place supplied to us 
by Dr. Georg Petersen, an oil geologist, we moved through the little 
village and traced the outlines of those first Inca buildings seen by 
Pizarro and his men in 1527. There were the courts, the enclosures 
and the walls, and we could still see faint traces of the old road 
which Pedro de Candia marched over when, fully armored, he came 
in from the ship to visit "golden Tumpiz." It is now little more 
than a flooded ricefield. 

But the ancient road was gone. "We found nothing but a memory 
of it as we moved back toward the mountains in search of the route 
of the conquistadores. The land itself has changed. Floods have 
ravaged the region and there have been devastating earthquakes, 
while for four hundred years the natives have been busy turning 
over every available piece of arable soil. 

Thirteen miles due south of the village, we passed the remains of 
an Inca tampu called Ricaplaya. This had been the first "small vil- 
lage" which the army of Pizarro reached on its first day out of 
Tumbes. The landscape was now much like the velds of Africa. 
The mimosa stood tall with flat-spreading foliage and stalks of 
shrubs stood bare of leaf in the coarse soil with the cactus. Large 
algaroba trees which had reminded the early Spaniard of the Karob 
trees of Arabia appeared now in profusion. 

It was a trackless place. No car had been there before us and we 
rumbled over the ground as a battle tank might have done. South- 
east and to our left were the Mountains of Amatope rising, so 
our maps indicated, to a height of 3000 feet and completely covered 
with vegetation. Had the Inca road climbed that mountain or had 
it hugged the plain at the mountain's base? And where was the "vil- 


A Great City Called Tumpiz 

lage among hills" where the Spaniards stayed on their third day out 
of Tumbes? 

That night we camped in the dry forest. With the rising rnopn 
came the animals. A red fox loping by stopped to look at us for a 
moment, a deer with its spotted doe leisurely walked in front of 
our lights, and above the sibilance of the night cicadas there was 
another deep throbbing sound. It was the cry of the howling mon- 
keys. Somewhere high in those mountain woods the deep -chested 
males were beating out their song. 

Along the lower foothills of the mountain spur where the trees 
were the largest, we came on the old road again. Under the detritus, 
gift of the sun and the rain, there was a dim but definite line that 
marked a continuing wall. Lawrence drove the Power Wagon 
slowly over the rock-strewn ground as Silvia and I walked ahead 
with our guide. It was when we saw parallel walls which were dis- 
tanced twenty-four feet that we knew we were on that wide road 
"with strong Walls on both Sides." 

I had long wondered what part of Peru the conquistadores had 
referred to when they said the road they walked had been shaded by 
trees. This region was the only place in the entire twenty-five hun- 
dred miles where such a situation could exist. Here were the trees 
and large blue morning glories that bloomed in profusion, the same 
flowers they had seen, and vines that had a large melon-like fruit 
which, when dead, emitted a dry ash like the Apples of Sodom 
found in Arabia Deserta. This then was the place of the shaded 
trees and the fruit. And so, alternately finding and losing the road 
over which the myrmidons of Francisco Pizarro had marched in 
May of 1532 on their way to find the Lord Inca, we came at long 
last to the banks of the Rio Chira in the first valley south of 
Tumbes. And on a high embankment in the same type of terrain 
where the rolling dry earth was studded with cactus and mimosa, 
we found Poechos. Here Pizarro, following the Inca road, had come 


Highway of the Sun 

to "the banks of rivers which were well peopled and yielded abun- 
dance of provision of the country and flocks of sheep [llamas]," 
and here he made camp in a large village called Poechos. 

After this we never lost for long the track of the ancient road. 
It ran along through ancient villages, up the sides of hills, through 
a desolate country, moving from valley to valley. 

In order to reach the place the Spaniards had called Zaran [Ser- 
ran], we had to take the winding vehicular dirt road that wound 
up and around the sides of the lower Andes and back through the 
semidesert land. Zaran is now a hacienda lying in a valley where 
several small rivers meet but in 1533 it was a place of considerable 
importance. Ruled over by a "great lord," its fortress guarded the 
Inca lateral road which there connected with the Royal Road 
through the mountains not more than fifty miles to the east and 
upward. It was at Serran, where we found more ruined structures, 
that Pizarro had waited for the return of Hernando de Soto who 
with his twenty soldiers had gone into the mountains to seek out 
the whereabouts of the fleeing Inca King. 

We fortunately had an account of this search as it had been re- 
ported by de Soto's soldiers. Don Diego Trujillo told how, after 
Pizarro had seen at Serran a road which appeared to go up to the 
mountains, he sent "Hernando de Soto with forty men. I went with 
him, and we continued up the road for twenty leagues until we 
came to the road which led to Caxas, the operation taking two days 
and one night without resting except for meals." 

Eight thousand feet above the Rio Tabaconas, in June 1532, de 
Soto and his forty soldiers came upon <e a village surrounded by 
mountains." Here at Cajas (which still exists) they saw the first 
evidence of the grandeur of the Golden Kingdom, "fine edifices 
and a fortress built entirely of cut stones, the larger ones being five 
or six palms wide and so closely joined that there appears to be no 
mortar between them." Since the natives were under the strictest 


A Great City Called Tnmpiz 

orders from the Inca not to attack, the two thousand Indian war- 
riors withdrew into the mountains, leaving de Soto master of the 
place. In time a chieftain appeared and through an interpreter of- 
fered to guide de Soto out to a "road made by hands and broad 
enough for six men on horseback to ride abreast." 

Thus Hernando de Soto became the first white man to see the 
Royal Road of the Incas, the "same road that traverses all the inter- 
vening land between Cuzco and Quito, a distance of more than 
three hundred leagues/' The distance is actually one thousand two 
hundred and thirty miles. The same Indian described Cuzco, the 
Golden Kingdom's capital, "as a league around, and the house of 
the Lord Inca as four crossbow shots in length," and he told of the 
civil war between the two brothers who had been rivals for the 
Inca-ship of all the Perus. The victor, Atahualpa, was even now not 
far distant from this same Cajas, taking the hot water baths at 

It was not long after this that the soldiers found et a great and 
strong building in the town of Caxas [Cajas] surrounded by adobe 
walls in which there were many women spinning and weaving 
cloth . . . and there were no men with them except the porters 
who guarded them." At the entrance the bodies of three Indians 
were found hanging by their feet, punished because they had en- 
tered the houses of the chosen women. Even in this ferocious drama 
of conquest there was a parenthesis now and then for other pastimes 
and de Soto's men, who had not seen women for months, could not 
be restrained. Five hundred of the Virgins of the Sun were forced 
out into the plaza, and while some of the crossbowmen mounted 
guard, the Spaniards had their way with them. Finally the soldiers 
left off and de Soto marched on down to Serran. 

That the conquistadores were brave men, I will be the last to 
deny. To march in such small numbers into an unknown land must 
have required courage of an uncommon sort. But I can only sug- 


Highway of the Sun 

gest that any who have traveled as we traveled, changing from 
vehicle to horse, from horse to foot, sleeping out here, taking a hur- 
ried meal there over the same terrain would agree that the 
Spaniards in those early days were less inconvenienced than we. 
They at least found a road in a fine state of repair; the tampu rest- 
stations were well provisioned; and if the proper pace was main- 
tained, in the evening there were night quarters for the traveler. It 
is true that for us there was no hostile people ready to fall upon us. 
On the contrary, a more peaceful people than the present-day 
Peruvian scarcely exists. Still even in those June days of 1532 the 
Spaniards went unmolested along a road wide enough "for six 
horses to go abreast." Such a road we never saw in its entirety, only 
fragments, and yet it seems amazing to us who followed the traces 
of these roads back and forth across mountain and desert that any 
part of this once great highway system should be intact. 

It was in this same region between Cajas and Huancabamba 
that in 1802 Alexander von Humboldt, "traveling for the acquisi- 
tion of knowledge," made a scientific study of the highway. After 
following it for hundreds of miles through Ecuador, he wrote: 
"The roads of the Incas were the most useful and stupendous works 
ever executed by man." He went on to speak of the **. . . solemn 
impression which is felt on beholding the deserts of the Cordilleras, 
increased by the remarkable and unexpected fact that in these very 
regions there still exists wonderful remains of the great road of the 
Incas, that stupendous work ..." 

On the sides of this road and nearly at equal distances there 
are still small houses built of well-cut free stone . . . answer- 
ing the purposes of caravan-series or tambos . . . While we 
journeyed onward on the heights of Pullal, our eyes were con- 
tinually riveted on the hard remains of the Inca road upwards 
of 20 feet in breadth; this part of the road had a deep under - 
structure and was paved with well-hewn blocks of black-trap 


A Great City Called Tnmpiz 

porphyry. None of the Roman roads which I have seen in It- 
aly, in the south of France and in Spain appeared to be more 
imposing than this work of the ancient Peruvians; and the Inca 
road is the more extraordinary, since according to my baromet- 
rical calculations it is situated at an elevation of 13,258 
feet . . . 

We saw still grander remains of the Peruvian Inca road not 
far from Huancabamba and also in the vicinity of Ingatambo 
near Pomahuaca. On our travels northward in the Cordilleras 
between Cajas and Huancabamba, we had no less than twenty- 
seven times to ford the Rio Huancabamba, compelled to do 
this on account of the numerous sinuosities of the stream, 
which on the brow of the steep precipice near us we had con- 
tinually without our sight the vestiges of the rectilinear Inca 
road . . . 

In time, following this important lateral that joined the two 
main axis roads the coastal and the Andean we too came to 
the same "vestige" of the road near Huancabamba mentioned by 
Humboldt, and so found and later explored the Inca road that led 
east into the jungle realm of the headhunters. But that is another 
story. . . . 

On that night we slept in the same Serran where Pizarro had 
once stayed for eight days awaiting the return of de Soto. Then, 
hearing his captain's story of the "things" of empire, he had gath- 
ered up his whole army and continued south on the wide road 
"with strong Walls on both Sides." And now here were we taking 
the same coastal route. 

We moved our trucks through little towns with old Inca 
names Copiz, Motupe "where there are great fields of cotton 
with which they make their clothes," through the next valley- 
village of Jayanca, "where a pleasant river flows with artificially 
made channels which serve to irrigate all the land that the Indians 

Highway of the Sun 

choose to sow." All along the way we found ruins of pyramids, 
outlines of structures and occasionally a section of the Inca road. 
As always, it measured twenty-four feet and even in its decay, it 
was ever a wide road "with strong Walls on both Sides," At the 
end of several weeks, the canvas top of the Power Wagon was torn, 
the paint on the cars marred and faded from the constant sun, and 
we ourselves burnt to a crisp. Yet like a beagle following the scent, 
we kept to our pursuit of history and the roads. 

By now we had formed a clear picture of the over-all Inca road. 
In the south, and in the north, it had measured the same twenty- 
four feet. Whether the land through which it ran was desert or 
semi-desert, along the entire route were remains of tembos and 
pyramids. Always our inexorable itinerary found the roads and 
measured them; found the tambos and measured the distances to 
determine the intervals between stations; surveyed the ruins and 
made a plan of them; searched for potsherds. All this, recorded 
and catalogued, was building toward an ever more complete picture 
of the Inca Empire. We were taking the extraneous legendary ma- 
terial of history and giving it archaeological foundation. The dead 
cities we discovered were not resting places wherein we sat and in- 
dulged in "sententious reflections on the transitory nature and de- 
cay of empires" as Volney did in his Ruines. Ours was the task of 
rediscovering the direction the roads had taken, and the reasons 
why the roads entered this rather than that geographical avenue, 
the utilization of terrain, the history of those who had come and 
gone over them. We were seeking to revitalize a dead civilization, 
with its cities, its division of labor, its methods of communication, 
its manner of handling surplus, its system of records, and along with 
these to gain some knowledge of the people and their multifarious 
activities in the social complex. 

An important part of this phase of our study had to do with 
our attempt at ferreting out the chasqui-coutier system. Ever since 


A Great City Called Tumpiz 

we had found those courier stations in the mountains and had made 
our test, we had been searching along the roads for the communica- 
tion posts. The stations were turning up more frequently. We came 
across a number of them well-spaced along a section of the desert 
road which had perhaps remained untouched since the Spanish 
abandoned it after the conquest. Speed was the important factor of 
communications "for the Inca King thought he should be as a 
heart in the midst of his realms," and the newsbearing cbasquis, 
who were as blood flowing along the arteries, carried information 
with the greatest speed. It was as a solution of the time-space prob- 
lem that the chasqui system had been established. 

On our way south we stopped for a breather at Cinto [Zana, 
Zana, or Sana] once a populous oasis watered "by a great and rapid 
river." In 1532 the conquistadores in their search for the Inca had 
traveled along this stretch of the Royal Road which they found 
"paved and bound on each side by a wall and so wide that two carts 
could be driven upon it . . ." into Cinto. Now we were driving 
our vehicles abreast over the same road, looking as the Spaniards 
had then for the road to Cajamarca. 

I do not know what Zana was like when it was Indian nor how 
"the road, made for Old Cuzco when he visited his dominions" 
looked then. Now sand surrounds it and there is a small village 
with a little square and houses of painted adobe, windowless to keep 
out the mosquito plague at night. In the seventeenth century, this 
village had been the place of an "experiment in God," and several 
beautiful churches, whose ruins were still visible as we drove by in 
the semidarkness had been built in what then was an extensive 
agricultural region. These offered no place to set up camp, for with 
the twilight the insects were out in thick swarms and our only es- 
cape was to find a place where we would have the strong wind from 
the sea. So we forced our trucks to climb the sides of a demolished 
pyramid. There in dust ankle-deep we set up camp. But tired 


Highway of the Sun 

though we were we could not sleep, and presently in the hope of 
finding someone who could give us some information about the old 
road 3 Silvia and I went down to the dark streets of the village. 

Fortune favored us this evening for we found Mayta. Small and 
precise, this little man with the Inca name wore pince-nez glasses 
containing but a single glass perched at an angle on his nose. He 
welcomed us into his bare room and fetched out another candle. 
We had no need to tell him our business. He had seen our truck 
with its emblazoned INCA HIGHWAY EXPEDITION and the running 
cbasqui figure. He had been reading news of our Expedition in the 
Lima papers and he had hoped that we would come this way. 

Mayta was an antiquarian, or better, a huaquero there is at 
least one in every village one touched by interest in things past 
who collects information, digs up graves, records the facts. He was 
exceedingly helpful. He knew, he said, the part of the road for 
which we searched, the part that broke off from the main coastal 
road and moved east to the mountains, the one that Pizarro took 
when he searched out the Inca King. His grandfather had accom- 
panied the great Antonio Raimondi, the Italian-born Peruvian ge- 
ographer, when he too sought it out in the last century. 

Then he brought out the collections of ceramics he had found in 
graves. We saw the black polished ware of the Chimu; the beauti- 
ful polychromic pottery of the Mochicas on which deer, fox, and 
people were naturalistically portrayed; and Inca pottery. When we 
asked how he had managed to find these, he brought out a notebook 
covered with diagrams and figures. He opened it, furtively glancing 
over his shoulder first one way then the other, leaned toward us and 
said, "I work in the occult sciences." He had, it seems, a co-worker 
among the unseen forces, an Inca spirit called "Claudio." On proper 
contact, Claudio would inform him where to dig and at what level 
he would find the antiquities. It was Claudio who had told him of 
the Inca lateral road which led to the sierra. Then he rose and, tak- 


A Great City Called Tnmpiz 

ing the candle In hand and moving in front of us so that his small 
shadow was large on the wall making it seem as if we were following 
the genie rather than Claudio, he led us to a dusty back room fur- 
nished with only a bed and a crucifix. There he showed more treas- 
ures ceramics, wood carvings, bronzes and mummies* He then 
excused himself, saying that he had to contact Claudio for word 
about the morrow's trek. 

With Mayta and ne Claudio" as our guides, we found the Inca 
road in splendid condition to the south of Zana. As soon as the in- 
fluence of the water canals ended, the desert began and there we 
saw their road, direct and wide as it had been described by the first 
white men who traveled it. The soil, waste gravel baked hard in the 
eternal everlasting drought, glowed underfoot and the air was like 
a flame in the sun as we walked toward the remains of a way station. 
The ground was a fallen desolation of stone of dry-laid masonry 
which had once formed the tarn-pus for this part of the road. Our 
measuring tapes out, we set to work in the brazen sun. One station 
measured one hundred and fifty feet by one hundred and twenty 
feet and was broken up in several rooms. These were right on the 
road which had been indented so that the structures could be 
keyed to the road. The stones used had been brought from the up- 
thrust rock-hill a few hundred yards behind, a hill Mayta called 
"the Hill of the Gallows." 

Here the road bifurcated to the east and, along a lateral road 
which climbed toward the mountains, Francisco Pizarro and his 
small army, thinned by disease and fear, marched toward the lair 
of the Lord Inca. A member of that expedition against an empire 
wrote: "From Zana we took the road to the sierra." 

It seemed that we moved for hours, so slowly did we creep 
through the skein of small trees toward our goal, the blue haze of 


Highway of the Snn 

mountains rising in the east. We passed several small haciendas 
thriving somehow in the aridity where we stopped just long enough 
to assure ourselves that this was the lateral road through the moun- 
tains to Cajamarca. It was essential that we get to the coast as and 
when we had planned and we could not now make the long and 
arduous climb over the i2,ooo-foot mountains that lay between 
Cajamarca and ourselves. 

With extreme difficulty we worked the trucks around the Nan- 
cho River which here snaked between the lower foothills of the 
towering Andes. At San Jose de Nancho we left our trucks and set 
out on foot to see the traces of the Inca road. We found it close to 
the pass that led up the mountains, a pathway still used by mules. 
There rising ahead of us was the now familiar step-road of broad 
treads, broken and out of line, but the same step-road which 
Pizarro had used to seek out the Inca. 

With an emissary sent as an escort by the Inca Atahualpa, and 
his one hundred and thirty foot-soldiers and forty horses and the 
numerous Indian porters who had been pressed* into his service 
gathered about him, Francisco Pizarro, who knew how to make 
fine speeches at solemn moments, mounted a rock close to the road 
and addressed his men. The import of his words was recorded by 
his scrivener: 

He exhorted all his men to make up their minds to act as he 
hoped they would, to have no fear of the great numbers of sol- 
diers in the army of the Inca. Though the Christians might be 
few in number, they had been blessed with divine aid for the 
confounding of their enemies. He would be with them seeing 
that they went hence with the good intention of bringing these 
infidels to a knowledge of the truth. 

So we left the conquistadores climbing up the sides of the Andes 
over the Inca road, climbing into history, into glory, as they car- 
ried death and destruction to the Inca's sanctuary. 



The End of the Road 

WAS IT FORTUITOUS or had it been subconsciously planned that 
the Expedition should end at Cajamarca where the end of the Inca 
Empire took place? I do not know. I remember only that in putting 
together the last links of the Royal Road in the Andes we had 
woven back and forth between mountain and coast and that our 
second anniversary and our journey's end found us in the 
environs of Cajarmarca. 

In our two years of travel we had linked by direct exploration 
almost the entire road system of ancient Peru. We had followed the 
Royal Road up and into Ecuador marking its way accurately; we 
had entered Huancabamba, famous in history as the first Inca city 
seen in the mountains by Hernando de Soto, who there had had his 
first glimpse of the opulence and wealth of a mysterious empire; 
and out of Huancabamba we had followed the until now unbroken 
road built by the Incas in 1470 over which they had moved 
seventy-five miles east to the banks of the* Maranon River and 
eventual defeat by the head-hunting Aguaruna Indians. 

All through the last months of the Expedition we had been at 
work joining together those roads in the highlands which we had 
been forced to bypass on previous trips. Now to mark the end, we 
had come north to Ichocan along the vehicular dirt road. On the 
plain near Cajamarca we put up what was to be our last formal 
camp. We were but three now Silvia, Richmond Lawrence and 

Highway of the Sun 

myself. The Riddells had finished their work and gone, and our 
native helpers and assistants were down on the coast preparing the 
final packing of our collections. Here I began to write the last 





I broke off from this summary to think how I might say exactly 
what it was that we had accomplished in these two years. I turned 
abstractedly to watch Silvia busy in the last light of day. She had 
been only twenty-three years old when we began, young and un- 
tried in this arduous work. Now bronze and lean, she had a know- 
ing way about her and an awareness. She had won her spurs as an 
explorer; working, drawing, collecting, helping to gather the ma- 
terial which I would draw upon in framing my over-all report. I 
turned to Lawrence, at work as always on his cameras. For two 
years, often under the most miserable conditions, he had photo- 
graphed the history of a people through their roads and had taken 
in all 60,000 feet of color film without the loss of a single roll. Our 
archaeologists, our draughtsmen, our guides, the aviators all had 
worked with us in our search for the answers to the questions we 
asked: Where had the Inca roads gone? Who built them? What part 
had they played in creating an Empire? et Rlch man, poor man, beg- 
garman, thief" all along the way the people of the road had 


The End of the Road 

shown a very real interest in our search for the horizons of the 
past. I shall be ever grateful for their helpfulness and inherent 

Had we found only a road? Much more! We had found a road 
system, a vast network of communications which had bound all 
the discordant elements of geography and of peoples into an empire. 
This we had followed wherever it led us and so had given sub- 
stance to those first incredulous reports of the Spaniards. We had 
measured these roads at thousands of different points; had studied 
structures, techniques, the engineering which made passage through 
bogs and fens and over high mountains possible; had seen how tun- 
nels were constructed through the living rock and the way in which 
the courier -system of communications was set up and maintained. 
We had found, after following an estimated five thousand miles of 
these ancient roads, that we were dealing with a master plan, that 
the Incas out of the pale of history as we know it had con- 
ceived and put into operation under a uniform plan a road system 
which extended from Colombia to Chili and into Argentina, a total 
of no less than ten thousand miles of all-weather roads which 
climbed to heights over which Man had never until then maintained 

"Whatever we had accomplished, I thought, could not be meas- 
ured in mere numbers of photographs nor in the vacant figures of 
mileage nor in the menacing piles of notes, maps and surveys. It was 
our hope that because of our study and traverse of the roads we 
had brought the story of the Inca civilizations into the focus of 
world history, and that these ubiquitous, these overwhelming, 
highways which climbed mountains, pervaded jungles, crossed 
deserts could now take their place among the major achieve- 
ments in the history of the world along with other great roads of 
Europe and Asia. I thought, too, of the shock our findings had 
given to complacency* 

Highway of the Sun 

Scholars have long been aware of the great influence of Early 
Man's roads and his communications, yet few of us who take for 
granted the present-day roads which now encircle the world have 
any clear idea of the extent of prehistoric communications. Early 
Man was a far-ranging animal, willing to undertake great journeys 
to obtain something which would alter his humdrum existence. He 
built a road from the Black Sea to the Baltic to get out amber, "that 
special act of God." He laid the Silk Road halfway around the 
world to get material in order that he might enjoy the luxury of 
soft cloth. He pushed roads to the turbulent sea to obtain Tyrian 
dyes so that he might wear garments of royal purple. 

It is not possible to minimize the importance of the world's roads, 
for every prehistoric road is a wish that has gone to work, every 
road built an accumulation of persistence. These roads were the re- 
fusal of Man to accept his environment as fixed. Roads took Man 
out of himself to seek for something beyond his own borders of ex- 
perience. We are surprised to learn that men were laying down brick 
roads in India as early as i6"oo B.C. in response to a demand for all- 
weather roads for the wheeled vehicles, that the Greeks in 500 B.C. 
were preparing a manual on road repairs, that the Romans laid down 
fifty-two thousand miles of road with traffic regulations, mile- 
stones, maps and an itineraria, or travelers' handbook, for the 

If we forget how deep our roots go into the past, we have only to 
peel back the layers of roads. London's Watling Street was an an- 
cient route two thousand years old before the Romans arrived. 
They found it straight enough to put their own road on top of it, 
and that in turn became the King's Highway and is today a great 
traffic artery. Similarly more than one fifth of Peru's modern roads 
are laid upon or utilize the strategic alignments of the ancient Inca 
road. The coastal Pan American Highway runs for miles alongside 
the ancient one, and in some places is actually laid over it. In Hun- 


The End of the Road 

cayo in the Andes, the Royal Road was first Inca, then the King's 
Highway, and now the modern road. 

A road is like a man. When he is dead he remains thus only for 
as long as he is not remembered, and so it is with a road when it 
is not maintained or used, it disintegrates and dies. History is built 
in layers and what we do not use or see we are likely to forget. Roads 
are our routes to the past. A road is the first thing that an archae- 
ologist seeks to discover and through stratigraphical excavation he 
attempts to find the layers of history. We separate the present from 
the past by many artificial barriers, finding it extremely difficult to 
perceive that the past is not past but a permanent part of life, just 
as ontogenesis is part of our physical evolution. 

Civilization is a road. And if civilization can be defined as the 
building of cities, the division and exploitation of labor, the con- 
version of resources, the creation of large social units, the complex 
religious organizations, the keeping of records, the building of 
monumental architecture, the linking of cities with roads and their 
corollaries, communications and bridges, then our Expedition has 
followed a path that has led us back through the centuries to the 
Inca civilization. Had time, endurance and money permitted, we 
could have extended our search for thousands of miles more into 
Argentina and Chile and north into Ecuador. Yet, in spite of these 
limitations, we have taken this road from the many general state- 
ments of the old chroniclers and have given it physical reality 
by finding it and following it through an inhospitable land, and so 
established something of the way of a people. In following the itin- 
erary of these roads we gained what we believed to be the first 
comprehensive view of the extent of the Inca Empire, and more, by 
our excavations, provided an ethnographic picture of the people 
who built the road and used the road. 

"We fleshed the dry bones, breathed on them and gave them life. 

High-way of the Sun 

The road and the people who built it were no longer technical ar- 
chaeological terms who moved by some orphic feeling. Together 
they showed us conclusively by their ever-present road which trav- 
eled from the suffocating sands of the desert to the moonscapes of 
the Andes that Man, wherever he is or whatever he is, accepts none 
of the frontiers laid out for him by Nature. 

It is this, then, that we have accomplished, apart from actually 
rediscovering large sections of the road and innumerable cities and 
tampus along the way, and it is only when this immense amount of 
material has been evaluated and written into the record that we 
shall really know how much has been found. At least we know 
with Emerson that "he who builds a great road earns a place in 
history/ 3 

So at the end we were at Cajamarca, which today has no re- 
semblance to the place once described by one of its Spanish con- 
querors. Following along on what had been the Inca road, we had 
come late one afternoon to the hot sulphur baths a few miles south 
of Cajamarca where the Inca had been with his troops on the eve- 
ning of November 15, 1532, taking the baths and performing vari- 
ous religious purifications. Then we moved on to Cajamarca. It is a 
small city laid out like a checkerboard with carefully spaced streets 
and a large plaza dominated by a colonial fountain and bordered 
by eighteenth-century churches. On the outskirts are masses of 
eucalyptus trees and blue- green fields of lucerne and alfalfa. Caja- 
marca has never been a strategically important city. Lying as it 
does in a complicated fold of the Andes at io,ooo-feet altitude, it is 
not today of any vital importance nor was it in that year 1532. Ex- 
cept that it was here that the Spaniards finally caught up with the 

A crossbow-shot from the plaza, as our Spaniard would have 

The End of the Road 

described it. Is a small hill about five hundred feet high, once capped 
by an Inca fortress overlooking the square. We left the Power 
Wagon and climbed the hill, surmounted now by a cross, and sat 
down on stone seats carved out of the rock. About us lay the pano- 
rama of Cajamarca. 

The Spaniards had come into the city of two thousand inhabi- 
tants from the north, arriving on Friday, November 15, 1532, at 
the hour of vespers. In this city was a plaza "larger than any in 
Spain" surrounded by a high wall and entered by two doorways 
which opened upon the streets of the town. The buildings were 
long, strongly built, three times the height of a man and roofed 
with straw. "They were," the scrivener said, "the finest we had 
seen." In the distance steam could be seen rising from the sulphur 
baths where the Inca was taking his pleasure, while nearby white 
tents "covered the ground as thick as snow flakes." Thirty thousand 
battle-tired soldiers were encamped about him. "It filled us with 
amazement," wrote the Spaniard, "to behold the Indians holding so 
proud a position." On the hills were fortresses "of a strength as not 
before seen among the Indians" and the small army of the Spaniards 
passed along beneath several such fortifications which, had the Inca 
been so inclined, could easily have stayed its progress. 

Why then had not the Indians attacked? Why had the conquista- 
dores been permitted to reach this Cajamarca without harm? Why 
had Pedro de Candia been allowed to mount his small cannon on a 
nearby hill, thus enabling him to dominate the square? 

These were questions which Atahualpa himself later answered. 
He had thought them at first to be followers of the returning Kon- 
tiki Viracocha, the Inca's Creator God who, so the legend went, 
had once brought them civilization but later, dissatisfied with his 
handiwork, had sailed away from Peru thereby setting a pattern for 
an amazing twentieth-century sea voyage on a balsa raft which bore 
the now familiar name Kontiki. The devastating civil war in Peru 

Highway of the Sun 

between the time of the first and second comings of the Spaniards, 
in which brother was pitted against brother for the leadership of the 
empire, had ended in triumph for Atahualpa and his generals. The 
way to Cuzco was open and the victor was on his way to the sacred 
city to be officially proclaimed Inca King when two cbasqms from 
Tumbes five hundred miles distant arrived at the baths with 
a message: "People have arrived by a big ship from out of the 
hatuncoca [sea], a people with different clothing, beards and ani- 
mals like llamas only larger." 

At first Atahualpa was hardly puzzled. He remembered how, 
in his youth, the "Viracochas" had come to their coast and then 
had sailed away. Now they were here again. After consultation 
with his priests, he ordered a general rejoicing. Had not the Kontiki 
Viracocha returned to add divine sanction to his recent victories? 
He sent a message back that he was to be kept informed of the 
movements of these visitors, forgetting in his eagerness the real 
Viracocha's departing warning: ec A people will come who will say 
that they are Viracocha the Creator and they are not to be be- 

As the Spaniards marched inland, Atahualpa was told of every 
incident of their advance. He knew when they killed some of the 
natives and put others into chains. He knew too when Hernando 
de Soto's men, climbing to the Royal Road, entered the village of 
Cajas and ravished the Sun Virgins it was then that the white 
man lost his divinity. Still the Inca held back and still his people 
were under strict orders not to attack the Spaniard nor provoke 
him. The concept he had formed of the nature of the danger which 
threatened him was to prove disastrous. The reports which reached 
him indicated that the strangers and their horses were one and that, 
dismounted, the "manpart" was ineffective and therefore incapable 
of fighting; that their "fire-sticks" were animated thunderbolts; 


The End of the Road - 

and that the Spaniards' steel swords were no more effective than a 
woman's weaving battens. Yet the Indians' llamas, like horses, were 
four-footed; the Indians' bronze weapons were like the white man's 
swords; and their own military tactics of flank, envelope and 
charge were similar to those of the Spanish. 

However, their fatal mistake was that they underestimated the 
ability of the Spaniard to get reinforcements from the sea. To the 
land-bound Indian, the sea was an impassable barrier and once an 
enemy was encircled, that was his end. The plan, then, was not to 
give battle to the Spaniards, not to attack; rather to give them en- 
couragement by the lack of resistance, to draw them into the moun- 
tains away from their ships, and then strike and end it all at once. 
How was an Inca King surrounded by his thousands of battle-tried 
troops, ruler of seven million people and a land extending through- 
out all the latitudes south, to know fear of a paltry one hundred 
and two soldiers on foot and sixty- two on horseback? 

To the Spaniards the moment called for audacious action. De Soto 
rode boldly into the Indians' camp to invite the Inca King into 
theirs, taking- no more notice of the thousands of armed warriors 
than he would of a handful of flies. Invited to sit on a seat of gold, 
he was waited upon by two Indian girls "as beautiful as suns." 
De Soto's talk was of the King of Spain, the Vice-regent of God, 
and of how he had sent Francisco Pizarro and his companions to 
bring the divine truth and holy law to these realms. The Inca agreed 
to go to their camp as invited, with his warriors unarmed, so as not 
to give offense to Pizarro. 

Toward the evening of November 1 6, the retinue of the Inca ad- 
vanced into the plaza. First came a squadron of Indians dressed in 
livery of different colors "like a chess board"; they advanced sweep- 
ing the road clear of any obstacles. Next came more Indians, beat- 
ing drums, blowing their conch horns, dancing and singing. Then 


Highway of the Sun 

came the Inca himself on a litter adorned with plumes of parrot 
feathers and plates of gold and silver, carried on the shoulders of 
eight blue-liveried nobles of the Rucana tribe. To the bleat of the 
horn and pounding of the drum they entered one of the gateways 
of the plaza. The rest is history. 

'""The Spaniards were hidden in the surrounding buildings, the plaza 
was vacant of white men and to the annoyed inquiry of the Lord 
Inca as to the whereabouts of the intruders, a solitary figure crossed 
the plaza. It wasJEriar Vicente. He stopped before the litter of the 
Inca: "I am a priest of God and I teach Christians the things of 
God . . . and I come to teach you." Offered the Bible and unable 
to make any sense out of it, the Inca threw it to the ground in 
proper rage. That was enough. The war cry "Santiago!" splintered 
the air and from the houses the armed Spaniards poured down on 
the trapped Indians. 

^~It was all over in thirty-three minutes, one of the most fateful 
half -hours the world has ever known. Within the space of time it 
took for the Spanish bugles to blow and the falconets to explode, 
for the shock of Spanish cavalry charging into the ranks of naked 
bodies, for slaughter of the bodyguard and the capture of the Inca, 
an empire which had been thousands of years in the making fell in 
the dust and gore of that plaza at Cajarnarca. The people never 
fully recovered from the first shock. 

Within days, realizing that his captors suffered from a malady 
for which gold was the only remedy, Atahualpa offered to ransom 
himself with the gold and silver of the Empire. He would, he said, 
standing on tiptoe, "give enough gold to fill this room twenty-two 
feet long and seventeen wide to the white line which is halfway up 
the wall." As for silver, he said he would "fill the whole chamber 
with it twice over/ 5 

"Atahualpa," so a chronicler wrote, cc a man of thirty years of 
age, good-looking, somewhat stout, with a fine face, handsome and 


The End of the Road 

fierce, the eyes bloodshot," sent his chasqui runners out over the 
Royal Roads with orders to all Indian officials that they deliver up 
the gold and silver. 

In the eight months during which the Inca was held as hostage, 
the ransom poured into Cajamarca, filling the room "twenty-two 
feet long and seventeen wide" which he agreed to fill once with gold 
and twice with silver. Several hundred Indians arrived carrying 
litters filled "in greater part, of gold plate . . . taken from the 
walls, for holes showed where they had been secured." Native gold- 
smiths were put to work melting it down into ingots. An account 
was made the gold alone came to 326,539 pesos, equivalent now 
to $20,000,000. . . . 

While the royal assayer of the ransom "with the fear of God be- 
fore his eyes evoked the assistance of heaven to do the work of di- 
viding the gold, conscientiously and justly," the captains about 
Francisco Pizarro pressed for Atahualpa's death. Rumors of the 
mobilization of Indian warriors were rife and Pizarro knew that he 
and his men would never get out all their golden loot once the Inca 
was set free. So in a feigned rage Pizarro, who had taken the pre- 
caution of having the Inca chained, went to him and remonstrated: 
"What treason is it that you have prepared for me, Lord Inca I, 
who have treated you with honor like a brother and have trusted 
your word?" 

"Do not make nonsense with me," the Inca answered. 

There were many Spaniards, among them de Soto, who protested 
against this travesty and who thought that only the King of Spain 
should have the right to try a monarch. It is ridiculous now to speak 
of justice, for codes of action are founded upon necessity. The 
whole thing was improbable, ridiculous, fantastic a king cap- 
tured in his own realm, obedient to his own laws, held in chains and 
for ransom, only in the end to be tried for crimes against humanity. 

There was a trial in which Atahualpa had twelve accusations 


Highway of the Sun 

leveled against him; among these that he was a bastard, he had 
many wives, he was an idolater, he waged unjust wars and he spent 
tribute which rightfully belonged to the Spaniards. He was found 
guilty and condemned to be burned alive. In great distress, Ata- 
hualpa asked if there were not some way he could escape. He was 
offered a way out. 

"If you will become a Christian, I will promise that not a drop of 
your blood shall be shed," said Pizarro. The Inca agreed and the 
Spaniard kept his promise. On that 29th day of August, 1533, when 
the Inca was finally led out to the square, not a drop of his blood 
was shed. He was strangled by the garrote. 

Disintegration began immediately with the Inca's death. This 
empire, which was the apogee of many other ancient native civiliza- 
tions, began to fall apart at once. The roads were first to go. Each 
tribe had had the responsibility for the upkeep of that section of 
road which ran through his particular land. The victors, not at first 
aware of this, gave these border-line villages to deserving soldiers 
in fief and with them the Indians who lived in them as vassals. These 
were then marched off as burden -bearers to their new lords. One by 
one the villages and tampus whose function was the maintenance of 
the roads were depopulated, and beneath the hammering blows of 
climate and conquest the roads themselves fell into disrepair. The 
Spaniards, soon realizing their mistake, wrote their "Ordinance for 
Roads and Tampus" which required the Spanish owners of the vil- 
lages through which the roads passed to do various things, one of 
which was that each should keep his section of road in good condi- 
tion. But by this time the Spaniard was used to making his own 
terms on the principal of <e l obey but I do not comply." After the 
dissolution of the roads, the rest of the culture that had been the 
Incas' followed. 

Yet in 1548 the road was still a wondrous sight and young Pedro 
Cieza de Leon, a soldier of but twenty-three years, rode along it 


The End of the Road 

and, moved by all that he saw, decided to write down an account 
of the wonders of the Indies. "One of the things which I admired 
most, in contemplating, and noting down the affairs of this king- 
dom, was to think of how or in what manner the Indians could have 
made such grand and admirable roads as we now see and what num- 
ber of men would suffice for their construction and with what tolls 
and instruments they can have leveled the mountains and broken 
through the rocks to make them so broad and good as they are. It 
seems to me that if the King, our Emperor, should desire to give 
orders for another Royal Road to be made such as this which goes 
from Quito to Cuzco, and the other from Cuzco to Chile even 
with all his power I believe that he could not get it done. O! what 
greater things could have been said of Alexander the Great or any 
of the other powerful kings who have ruled the world than that 
they could have made such a road as this . . . the grandest and 
longest road in the world." 


Silvia von Hagen, 26, co-leader of the 
Expedition, at the American Geographi- 
cal Society, before dimensional map of 
the Cuzco Valley which she made. 

Expedition on the coast near Huacho. 
Hans Disselhoff, archaeologist, Victor 
von Hagen, Silvia von Hagen. 

Henrik Blohm, 21, Harvard undergrad- 
uate. Expedition volunteer, discoverer 
of ruins of outlying Vilcabamba. 

The Rid dells with Captain Henry 

Leighton, USA, pilot to Expedition. 

The chasqui symbol of the Expedition 
and its living counterpart, an Indian 
dressed as a chasqui. 

Victor von Hagen in Puno, 
with Expedition mascot, vi- 
cuna Afidea, and an Indian 
helper for the Expedition. 

Lawrence and von Hagen as- 
cend canyon of Apurimac, on 
way to "Bridge of San Luis 

Members of 
the Expedition 

Lake Titicaca beyond the city of Puno. 

The entrance gate to Puno, City of the 

Around the lake adobe houses, window- 
less, thatched with straw. 

Puno and the Titicaca Lake 

First seen by white mm in 1533j the basin about the lake has held South 
America's oldest cultures since the earliest times, At 12,50Q feet altitude, 
freezing at night, sun-bright during the day, Titicaca is one of the highest 
lakes in the world and the most -populated area, in the Andes, 

Balsas in their alignment before playing down of matting. 

The floating bridge from Squier's Peru 

Llamas cross the newly made balsa 
in simulation of the old crossing. 

The Balsa 

The reed pontoon balsa bridge, the floating road invented by the Indians 
for river crossing in a treeless land. Thirty or more reed balsas were strung 
together, filled with straw, matted for the pontoon road which spanned the 
Desaguedero at Lake Titicaca. The bridge t pictured by Squier in 1866, 
endured for 1000 years. 

The square and round chullpas near Qutimbo, Lake Titicaca. 

Towers of the Dead 

Various chullpas 
on the west 

of Titicaca, close 

to the Inca 


Entrance to the interior of the chullpas, with carvings of viscachas 
(related to chinchillas). 

Chullpas (Toivers of the Dead), found around all of Lake Titicaca. They 
are pre-Inca, made of well-fitting stone as fine as anything Incaic. The 
chullpas were built to house the dead. t( They once outnumbered the 
houses of the living" said an early Spaniard. They are a great mystery; 
rifled for four centuries, there are not enough remains to determine age, 
epoch, or culture. 


An old Inca causeway resurfaced at the 
northern end of Titicaca. 

San Jeronimo de Asilla (built 1678- 
1696), village of Asillo, entrance into 

Detail of facade of San Jeronimo de Asillo. 

Carabaya Country 

Around the northern end of Thicaca flows the Inca causeway moving 
through the little-known Carabaya region into the eastern montana. In the 
smallest villages, such as Asillo, stand churches built by Hispanized In- 
dians, marking the wealth that once came from the "verie riche river of 

The Sun Festival 

Inti-raymi marked the sum- 
mer solstice when the Sun 
God returned to be among 
his people. A modern ver- 
sion of that Festival, done 
with authentic costuming. 

The llamoids (below), related to 
camels ; domesticated by the Inca for 
wool and as beasts of burden; also, 
like the camel, for great zoological 
mysteries. The vicuna, which Silvia 
von Ha gen holds, was never domes- 
ticated, but protected by the Incas 
for the fine wool seen (below) 
hanging from the male vicuna 
chests. The inquiring face is an 
alpaca, the real wool provider, liv- 
ing high in the snow. Llamas are 
fine beasts of burden, but poor wool 
yi elders. 

Vicunas down from the hills of the Carabaya for shearing. 

Face of a young alpaca, close to 
Macusani, Carabaya. 

Llamas resting on Inca roadway to 

A herd of mixed alpacas and llamas close to Allm-Capac mountain. 

r * "** " " aih^v . # j-JaK^"*'' 

'$? ": 

Somewhere, Lost Vikabamba 

Machu Picchu, in the jungle, or Antt-suyu section of the Inca road system, 
is on top of a mountain in the Urubamba Gorge, at 10,000 pet. It is 
notable for being the only Inca city found intact and gives a good idea oj 
Inca city planning. It is the climax of an Inca road network and terraced 
cities. One road leads to Cuzco. Prom 1000 feet higher on top of Huayna 
Picchu, where Victor and Silvia von Hagen stand, Machu Picchu and the 
road leading southwest from it can be seen. 

In the valley north of Machu 
Picchu is Salcantay. The river 
valley cuts through tropical 
jungle, is ringed with ancient 
roads, and goes under the 
great 20,000-foot-high Sal- 
cantay massif. It is reached 
by mule over log bridges and 
through freezing tempera- 

The Bridge of the Great Speaker 

The Apurimac-Chaca, the Bridge of the Gre'at Speaker, a suspension bridge 
over the gorge of the Apurimac. It entered literature as the "Bridge of San 
Luis Rey." Squier, who made an engraving of it in 1866, measured it accu- 
rately as 200 feet long and 118 -feet above the river. It was built circa 
1350 ; lasted until 1890. Its rope cables were replaced every two years. 
The tunnels, and the steps to the road, still exist. 

Victor von Hagen with Spanish documents dated 1541, at Ayacucho. 

Sanctuary of the Hawk 

Consulting colonial documents tvas one way to find the elusive Inca Road. 
These showed that the Road bypassed Ayacucho to move on to Vilcas- 
huaman, where the Sun Temple is still intact. Built during the apogee of 
the Inca Empire, this Sun Temple is now the only such edifice in the whole 
extent of what was the Empire. 

The Sun Temple at the ruins and village of Vilcas-huaman. 

Silvia von Hagen walking 
down the step- road between 
Jauja and Bonbon. 

Highway of the Sun 

The great military Highway of the Sun between Jauja and Bonbon was 
found in good state. Technology in road building varied with the terrain. 
On the hard puna a surface was not needed, and the road was walled and 
drained with steps placed on all hills to prevent erosion. On a steep hill, 
steps (pata pata) were used. Silvia von Hagen essayed descent on the Royal 
Road. Over this puna, the chasqui ran 1250 miles in 5 days, resting at 
terraced villages such as Tarma-tamho, 

A member of the Expedition walks over the Jauja road where small treads 
were placed to prevent erosion. 

An Indian garbed as a chasqui makes the ''run" between stations on the road 
at Inka-katana. 

Terraced village Tarmatambo, a halting place on the Royal Road, which is seen 
climbing the sacred hills above the modern village. 

Map of Huanuco drawn by Spanish Expedition, 1786. 


One of a series of ornamented doorways in the main palace. 

Road to Chachapoyas 

Huanuco, the greatest city between Cuzco and Quito, was built late in the 
Inca Empire period as a strategic city for the conquest of Chacbapoyas, the 
Chimu on the coast, and for Quito. Three roads entered and left it. It had 
a population of 30,000. The map of 1786 shows this Huanuco. The larger 
building had doorways of crouching lions shown in the photograph. 
Huanuco is 12,000 feet high, desolate; one reaches it by an ancient cause- 
way after going up a series of steps to reach the high plain. 

The causeway of the Royal Road which reaches Huanuco. 

The staircase road on the way to Huanuco, close to Banos. 

The staircase highway beyond Pataz. 

The fortress of Torre-Pukro high on 
the crown of a hill. 

The paved Inca road entering the 
jungles close to Leimebamba. 

Road to Chachapoyas 

All along the route of the conquest road to Chachapoyas, the empty way is 
crowned with fortresses raised to prevent Inca troops from entering, and 
stone stairway roads marching across the silent jalka and then entering the 
jungles. It is 450 miles in length } and is the longest fully paved road in 
the entire Inca road system. 

In the matted jungles close to where the Inca road enters the "forest, the 
Expedition found countless stone ruins, One, the site at Choquillo, was 
found almost intact. Stone-laid dry walls were part of a fortress, while, 
within the jungle, rounded stone buildings with square windows were 
covered with orchids, and about the outside a fret design coursed its 
rounded sides. 

Tambo Colorado from the air lies on the Pisco River 

Detail of decorative frieze and rooms Details of windows, 
with step windows within Tambo Colo- 

Unliving Desert 

Tambo Colorado lies in the next valley south of Canete and Incahuasi and 
is connected by the coastal road. It is built on the Pisco River and is a 
planned official highway stop, a garrison and a sacred Inca bath. A lateral 
road also ran up this valley and connected with Vilcas-huaman m the 
high sierra. 


fc*_ **;* 
The desert about lea. 


Unliving Desert 

On the coast rams never come. In the northern desert nothing grows; in 
the south, date palms were introduced by the Spaniards. In the Canete 
Valley are the remains of an Inca lateral road which connected coast and 
Andes near the ruins of Huasi or Incahuasi, the Incas' ff New Cuzco." 
It is built of adobe. This was the largest Inca city ruin on the entire coast, 
and lies back 40 miles from the sea. 



*&2sfe**3* , 


The lateral road moving between coastal road and royal 
Andean road In the Canete Valley. 

View of the storage chambers of IncahuasI used for 
storing corn and sea food. 

The Tres Graces or Tree of Life at Paracas. Its direction is true 

The Nasca lines, found between the Ingenio and Nasca Valleys, 
by the Peruvian Air Force at an altitude of 10,000 feet.) 


Marked Desert 

The southern desert, which is eternally rainless, has many surface mys- 
teries. The dead are fully preserved from the desiccating sands. On a hill 
facing the bay of Paracas is the- (t Tree of Life" buried in the sand. It is 
602 feet high and at least 2000 years old. And father south, in the Nasca 
Valley, are mysterious radiating lines in the form of platforms, animals 
and abstractions. They fill hundreds of square miles of desert. 

Skeletal dead pulled from graves at the Caverns of Paracas. The 2000-year-old 
textiles in which the bodies are wrapped are of such imaginative beauty that 
museums treasure them as some of the finest weavings in the world. 

Silvia von Hagen looks down to the sea, the beach and to the ruined tampu station on the 

coastal road. 


Chala lies at the edge of the sea in the south desert. It is the terminus of 
the Cuntu-suyu (coast) road coming out of Cuzco. It is from this place 
that' the Inca had fish fresh from the sea. It has excellent roads, stone stair- 
ways, tampu road markers, and immense official storage areas, 

vij^?&??*&' -, 

:...--.. .:$-..'., 



The road leading to Chala, on which run Indians in chdsqui dress. 

An ascending stone stairway, one of the many on the coastal road. As with 
all Inca work, they are laid in dry masonry. Silvia von Hagen ascends. 


'he Inca fishing village at Quebrada de la Vaca, where the Expedition 
?und the skeletal remains of those who fished for the seaweed and sea food 
estined -for Cuzco, two days distant by runner over this road made with 






yj$^&$ffi ".' 4 ' <V '\V-^^ 

Kingdom of the M.oon 

The northern coast belonged to the Moon, the deity of the Kingdom of 
Chimor, but in time (1460) if was eclipsed by the Sun and the Inca ran 
his ubiquitous road directly through the conquered lands. Beyond the pre- 
Inca Mochica pyramids at Chiquitoy in the Chicama Valley runs the 
High^vay. Chan-chan, capital of the Chimu, was built between 1200- 
1400. It ruled a kingdom of 600 coastal miles. The Chimu medium was 
mud cast in molds, colored. Rain and Man have brought it to its amor- 
phous state. 

Kingdom of the Moon 

The Mochicas, who were centered in the Chicama Valley, were the finest pot- 
tery makers of the world, Their time: 1 B.C. to A.D. 800, when they were 
overwhelmed by the Chimu. Their pottery techniques reached into Inca times. 
(a) The head of the man is a portrait; (b) sea birds, a study in bird observa- 
tion (note the young birds, and their wings) ; (c) llamas shown with eye 
fringe to keep away glare from the sun; (d) the house jar is a coastal house: 
round, thatched, made of mud. It was made during Inca occupation after 1450, 

Inca Artifacts 

The Incas were a disciplined, almost Spartan, people living within the 
framework of a society in which almost everyone was his own artisan. 
Their artifacts are practical: a large aryballus which falls on its side when 
it is empty of drink; a gold llama to propitiate the gods; a long-necked 
drinking vessel used for ceremonial occasions. 


The Expedition was successful in its quest. It found what it 
sought, and more. But all of this could never have been done with- 
out the aid of the many individuals and organizations whose mate- 
rial aid gave us the tools to make these discoveries possible. Fore- 
most of those who aided us was Herr Sigmund Gildemeister of 
Bremen and Sao Paulo, Brazil, whose death just a few months be- 
fore the Expedition's end did not allow him to see what his interest 
had wrought. And so we wish to give him homage, and to thank 
also the following individuals and organizations who made this ex- 
pedition possible: 


















Highway of the Sun 

























The maps and end papers were drawn by 
Messrs. Lee Hunt and Victor B. Harris, Jr. 



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ACARI, 230-233, 234, 235, 240, 246-249, 

Acosta, Father Jose, 48 

Aguaruna Indians, 293 

Allin-Capac, 62, 67 

Almargo the Blinkard, 102, 240, 279 

Alvaredo, Alonzo de, 201-202 

American Geodetic Survey, the, 221 

American Geographical Society, the, n, 12, 

32, 57, 117, 170, 233, 245 
Andachuaylas, 136, 137, 176 
Anti-suyu quarter, 84, 98 
Apurirnac River, 103, 105, 117, 120, 121- 

135, 138 
Arequipa, 8 
Asia, 208209 
Asillo, 59-60 

Atahualpa, 82, 122, 285, 292, 299-304 
Atiquipa, Hills of, 235, 236 
Ayacucho, 139-141, 160 
Ayala, Poma de, 35, 152, 185, 225 
Ayapata, 57, 70 
Ayaviri, 28, 59 


Barrios, Juan de, 220 

Bellevista, 123, 126 

Bingham, Hiram, 106, no in, 112, 124, 

Blohm, Henrik, 91, 111114, 125-126, 


Bonbon, 26, 182-185 
Bridge of San Luis Rey, 120, 122, 129 


Cahua-rnarca, 235-237, 238-239, 240, 241, 

Cajamarca, 82, 88, 128, 189, 260-261, 

285, 289, 292, 293, 298-299, 302-303 
Cajas (also Caxas), 284-285, 300 
Candia, Pedro de, 279-280, 282, 299 
Canete, 209 

Carabajal, Francisco de, 96-97 
Carabaya, (also Kara-waya), 56-80 
Casma, fortress of, 256 
Cassamarca, 231 
Chachapoyas, 139, 170, 189190, 200, 201 


Chala, 178, 241-244, 245, 249250 
Chancas, (also Yachas), 95-96, 137139, 

176, 191-192, 200, 2ii 212 
Chan-Chan, 259-260, 262265 
Chasqms, 18, 84-86, 87, 132, 177-181, 

272273, 288-289, 300, 303 
Chicama Valley, 264, 265, 268269 
Chiclin Museum, 269275 
Chimbote, Desert of, 257, 258 
Chimor, Kingdom of, 176, 254256, 259, 

261, 262 

Chimus, 206, 253274, 290 
Chincha, 240 
Chinchas, 212, 213 
Chinchay Lake, 161, 182 
Chinchay-suyu quarter, 83, 93, 168, 182 
Choque-quirao, 113, 123, 124 
Choquillo, 197200. 
Chupas, Battle of, 141, 145 



Cieza, Pedro de Leon, 3, 4, 23, 25, 26, 37, 
44, 45> 59, 68, 93, 128-129, 131, 133, 
138, 144, 150, 151, 167, 171, 179, 180, 
213, 219, 234, 256, 274-275, 304-305 

Colla-suyu quarter, 84 

Contay, 149 

Cuntu-suyu quarter, 84, 241242, 243 
244, 251 

Cuntur-marca, 190, 192 

Cuzco, 3, 6, ii, 26, 35, 50, 55, 60, 78, 
79, 80, 8197, IO2 > I2 J *3 8 I 7 r 2 4 r 
285, 300, 305 

DAUGHERTY, CHARLES, 15-16, 30, 34, 41, 

53, 64, 77-78, 91, 112-114, 140 
Desaguadero, 3740, 44 
Deza, Francisco, 5253 
Don Luis, 6466 


Gob, Wffii, 56-57, 62 

HAGEN, VON, SILVIA, 8, 13-14, 18, 30, 
31, 34, 47, 7i-74 114-120. I4i~i43, 
158, 163164, 165, 169, 182, 196, 197 
198, 293, 294 

Hanco-Hualla, 138, 176, 191-193 

Haqui, 19, 23, 44, 50 

Herrera, Senor Rafael, and Don Rafael 
Larco, 269270, 272 

Highway of the Sun, 165, 166 

Huaca-punca, 93 

Huadcjuina, 111112 

Huambacho, 257 

Huampu, 105 

Huancabamba, 286-287, 293 

Huancas, (also Yanchas), 167, 168 

Huancayo, 163, 166167, *97 

Huanchaco, 265 

Hudnuco, 170, 184, 186-189 

Huara, 253 

Huaymango, 104, 105 

Huayna Capac, 132, 147-148 

Huayxia Picchu, no 

Huayuri, 225226, 230 

Humboldt, von, Alexander, 275 286-287 

ICA, 216, 217-220, 224-226 
Ichocan, 293, 294 
Inca-Huasi, 124, 211-212 
Inca Roca, 129, 135 
Ingapirca, 10 

Inti-raymi Festival, 78, 92-93 
Ituata, 57, 70 
Izcu-chaca, 165 

JAQUI, 234, 238 

Jauja, 1 66, 167, 168, 170, 174 

Juli, 34 

Juliaca, 56, 58 

Junin, 161, 182, 183 

KARMENKA, HILL op, 81, 88, 93 
Kontiki Virachoa, 79, 299, 300 
Kuelape, 200 

LA VENTA, 225, 230 

Lawrence, Richmond, 16, 30, 34, 42, 77 
78, 91, 111114, 126128, 141, 164, 
165, 212, 218, 252, 265, 267, 293, 294 

Leighton, Capt. Henry, 221229, 241 

Levanto, 201203 

Lima, 31, 33, 102, 105, 206, 220, 253 

Lucanas, 150 

MACHU PICCHU, 106-111, 215 

Macusani, 62 

Manco Capac II, 101105 

Maranon River, 138, 170, 190, 293 

Marcavalle, 166 

Marquez, Don Felipe, 220 

Mayoc, 162, 163, 166 

Mendoza, Pedro de, 234 

Mesapata, 177 

Moche Valley, 262, 264 

Mochicas, 258, 259, 268, 269-275, 290 

Molina, Alonzo de, 279 

Mollepata, 119, 126 

Montaro River, 161163, 166, 183 

NASACARA, 40, 41 

Nasca (Nazca), 125, 218, 223, 224, 226 

229. See also end paper. 
Nascas, 247250 

National Archives (Lima), 187, 220 
New York Times, 14, 33, 50, 76, 112, 165, 

228-229, 243-244, 294 
North American Newspaper Alliance, 14 



OCAMPO, FRANCISCO DE, 190, 193 154, 


Old Cuzco, 280, 281, 289 
Ollachea, 70 
Ollantay-tambo, 103 
Oma-suyu quarter, 28, 59 
Ordinance for Roads and Tampus, 169 

170, 304 

PACHACAMAC, 167, 206207, 2*4 

Pachacutic, 146 

Pampaconas River, 103, 106 

Pampas River, 151, 152 

Pan American Highway, 216, 225, 235, 

254, 282, 296297 

Pancorvo, Pepe de, 107, in, 113114 
Paracas, 221224, 227 
Paramonga, 254256 
Pariabamba, 151 
Pariacaca, 48 

Parinacochas Lake, 242, 244 
Paulla-Inca, 90 
Pisac, 98 

Pisco, 218; Desert of, 216; River, 214 
Pizarro, Francisco, 8283, IOI > IO 4 I J I > 

168, 206, 240, 276281, 282, 283284, 

287, 290291, 292, 301304 
Pizarro, Gonzales, 96 
Pizarro, Hern an do, 185 
Plain of Blood, 138, 176 
Poechas, 283284 
Pornacocha, 153160 
Pomata, 35, 36 
Pompo, 184 
Pucara, 151 
Pukuta, 72, 75-76 
Puncuyoc, 112, 113 
Puno, 8, 1 8 21, 24, 29, 45, 50, 5354 


Quito, 3, 6, 176, 305 . 

Riddell, Dorothy and Fritz, 16, 18, 206 
207, 211, 212, 218219, 2 3 Q > 232233, 
241, 245-252, 293 

Road, Royal (Huayna Capac 5jan), 93, 
132, 147149, 152, 167169, 172, 184, 
189, 206, 211, 215, 231, 257258, 264, 
284-285, 289, 293-294, 297, 300, 303, 
305. See also end paper. 

Road, Royal, of Conquest, 169172, 176, 

Roads, Old World, 5, 6, 130-132, 237, 

276, 287, 295296 


Salcantay Mountain, 103, 114117, 123 

Saminez, David, 120, 121 

San Pedros de los Incas, 281 

Sancho, Pedro, 127, 150, 152 

Soras, 150 

Soray, 1 1 8 , 122 

Soto, Hernando de, 8188., 284285, 287, 

293> 30, 3*> 303 
Squier, E. George, 38, 40, 41, 119, 122, 



Tambillo River, 201 

Tarnbo Colorado, 214215, 216 

Tanaca, Desert of, 234, 236 

Tanquihas, 146 

Tawantin-suyu, 84 

Tiahuanacan Empire, 227228, 247, 259 

Titicaca, 7, 8, 10, n, 18, 28, 34, 37, 42, 

43 50 53, 5 6 ~J7 *8, 59, 79> "7 M9 
Topa Inca, 147, 185, 188, 200, 211212 
Torre Pukro, 195197 
Tres Cruces, 221223 
Tucuman, 1 1 
Tumpiz (also Tumbes), 204, 244, 252, 

276282, 300 
Tupac Amaru, 105 


Uran-marca, 150, 152153 

Urcos Lake, 79 

Urumbamba River, 100, 103, 106107 

VALLEY OF VIRU, 258-259 

Vega, Garcilaso de la, 129, 133, 200 

Vilcabamba, 98-120 * 

Vilcanota River, 79, 98 

Vilcas, 143148 

Vilcas-huaman, 139148, 153, 184 

von Hagen, Silvia. See Hagen, von. 

WANKAS, 167, 172 

Wellman, Frank, 263-264 

Wilder, Thornton, 120, 122, 129, 133-134 



XAQUI-XAHUANA, 94-95, 9* 

Zaran (*ko Serran), 284, 285, 287 

YAHXJAN HUACAC, the Bloody Weeper, 152 Zepita, ^6 

Yucay, 100 Zufiigo, Don Inigo, 187-188 

Yupanqui, 138, 147 Zurite, 94 



Coastal road TumbeStoTalca 2^20 Milt* 
Andean road Quito- Cuyo-Taica , 2$ Miles